Ass Backwards

This post on the Coal Tattoo blog points out something really obvious that hadn’t occurred to me: companies can’t fully develop CCS (carbon capture and storage) technology until they know what the federal regulations will be.

In other words, here’s an industry begging for regulation:

I was just checking out a new article in Chemical and Engineering News about the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, when I stumbled upon the headline of a complete separate story:

Carbon Dioxide’s Unsettled Future: Technologies to reel in greenhouse gas emissions abound, but can’t move forward without policy actions.

Here’s how it started:

With world population climbing, and energy demand along with it, countries are trying to figure out how to minimize the global-warming consequences of carbon-based energy …

… The challenges are enormous: Because of the differences in energy resources, nations around the world have different abilities to shift away from fossil fuel and to adopt technologies that reduce CO2 emissions.

And many of those technologies are not moving as fast as they could be because of uncertainty in public policies to reduce CO2 emissions.

Among other things, the story quotes George A. Richards, focus area leader for energy system dynamics at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory:

It’s not just a matter of solving technical issues.  It is a matter of cost and social acceptance. Cost remains a bottleneck for carbon-capture technology, and regulatory certainty is needed before investments will be made in large-scale sequestration.

That’s right … this story reminded me of West Virginia’s now-senior Senator, Jay Rockefeller, who is pushing a bill to boost CCS, despite a GAO report that says the bill won’t work absent binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

And, as we found out late last week, Sen. Rockefeller believes the death of a bill that would have put such limits in place was a “sound idea with bipartisan support.”