Thursday, March 12, 2009


Clean Coal - Cheap At Twice The Price

It has become a kind of running joke among many of us on the right that no matter the problems the future brings, they’ll still be Bush’s fault. And, sure enough: Bush May Have Set Back 'Clean Coal' Efforts by 10 Years, Report Says

“The Bush administration's decision to halt production of an experimental power plant that would capture and store carbon dioxide emissions underground may have set back "clean coal" technology in the United States by as much as a decade, according to a congressional report released at a hearing yesterday.”

Perhaps Post writer Kimberly Kindy was on some kind of word count but the more accurate description for the “congressional report” would be the “Report by the Majority Staff of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the Committee on Science and Technology to Chairman Bart Gordon and Subcommittee Chairman Brad Miller” Can you guess the party of the Majority Staff? Here are some hints from the report:

“No one – except those who may have drunk the Kool-Aid at DOE – was surprised at the anemic response to the FOA.” (pg. 39)

“Jim Connaughton, CEQ chief and loyal Bush soldier…” (pg 42)

Of course the idea that a year delay somehow translates into a 10-year setback is intuitively moronic. And, to be fair, I don’t think the report actually makes that claim; instead, it appears to quote sources that estimate a so-called setback of 10 years in clean coal technology if FutureGen (the project’s name) was completely eliminated (which it wasn’t).

Also, cost estimates used as justification for killing the commercial-scale project known as FutureGen were grossly exaggerated because Energy Department officials did not account for inflation, according to a Government Accountability Office report, also released yesterday.”

What the GAO Report highlighted was the DOE's comparison of the project’s costs in 2005 dollars ($925 million) and the inflation-adjusted figure used by the participants ($1.8 billion through 2017) to cite the overruns. Okay but then you read later that “Energy Secretary Steven Chu reasserted his desire yesterday to build the plant but cautioned that price estimates now range as high as $2.3 billion and that he would like to bring down the cost.”

Sounds like the costs were grossly UNexaggerated.

After exhausting 43 pages excoriating the previous administration for its apparently boneheaded decision not to proceed with the project, you’d expect the report to conclude we need to get right back up on that horse. Instead, on the last page of the report:

“Whether the new Administration and Congress should revive the original program, which was ready to begin work when the Department of Energy killed it, or move to some other initiative, is an open question.”

So President Bush was a partisan idiot for allowing this program to be stopped but …

Side Note: Skeptics noted that the Bush Administration only killed the project after it was announced that the plant would be built in Illinois, not Texas (the two finalists for the project.) So no doubt they’re equally skeptical that:

Deep inside the economic stimulus package is a $1 billion prize that, in five short words, shows the benefits of being in power in Washington.

“The funding, for "fossil energy research and development," is likely to go to a power plant in a small Illinois town, a project whose longtime backers include a group of powerful lawmakers from the state, among them President Obama.” New Life for 'Clean Coal' Project

We have a disagreement as you can see from my post

I actually don't think we should've been wasting money developing this at all, my issue with the Bush Administration(and I have the same problem now with Obama) is that they're going around trumpeting "clean coal" technology when it doesn't exist, and Bush doesn't appear to have been seriously investing in it while he was talking it up.
Thanks for the comment MAtt, you are right, I do disagree with you. I read your posting and, okay, words like "clean" are relative but there can be "cleaner" coal. However, programs like NextGen are just feel-good sops to people in Illinois and earnest wannabes in DC. That said; coal is abundant and I'd use it to our advantage.
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