Carbon capture and storage could ensure abundant electricity from coal, while cutting the CO2 emissions “responsible for climate change.” Yet, barely two years after “a sense of determination and common cause” inspired the Obama Energy Department to launch CCS projects, industry is “pulling the plug.”
What could have gone wrong? Environmentalists had “heralded” the projects. “What’s killing carbon capture?” Bloomberg Businessweek wondered.
The economy is “weak,” its reporters suggested. US climate policy is “uncertain.” There is a “national retreat from the goal of reversing climate change,” largely because of energy industry lobbying against cap-and-trade legislation. The administration spent its political capital on Obamacare. Republicans took over the House. Utility regulators refuse to underwrite growing CCS costs with massive rate increases. A CCS storage site in Saskatchewan began bubbling up carbon dioxide.
All these factors played a role. But talk about ignoring inconvenient elephants. While his magazine staff scratched their heads, owner Michael Bloomberg was working to scuttle carbon capture and coal-fired power plants. His foundation gave Sierra Club $50 million to finance disinformation campaigns aimed at shutting down one-third of the nation’s coal-fired power plants by 2020.
That’s the same coal that generates 48-98% of the reliable, affordable electricity in 26 states. It enables US companies to compete internationally, keeps millions employed, produces billions in tax revenue, powers air conditioners that keep people comfortable and alive when outside temperatures hit 90-115, and allows even poor families to enjoy the best living standards in world history.
That’s the same billionaire Michael Bloomberg who, as mayor of New York City, wanted to install giant wind turbines on the city’s bridges and skyscrapers. This, he insisted, would get NYC off the blackout-prone Northeast power grid and reduce the threat of heat waves – like the ones back in 1976, 1954, 1936 and 1924, before climate change and heat waves stopped being natural and became “manmade.”
By financing Sierra Club’s anti-energy crusade, Hizzoner is making it infinitely harder for any company to justify investing another dime in CCS demonstration projects. The Department of Energy and Businessweek reporters may still support carbon capture. But Bloomberg, Sierra Club, NRDC and Lisa Jackson’s Environmental Protection Agency want it and coal-based electricity priced out of existence.
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