Rockefeller Kicks Off Effort to Increase Clean Coal Tech

The State Journal
20 September 2012
By Taylor Kuykendall, Reporter

Sen. Jay Rockefeller has announced an initiative to deal with the challenge of reducing carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants in the midst of the Republican-led House looking to thwart attempts to regulate CO2 in a highly publicized floor vote this week.

In a news release from late Thursday, Rockefeller said he has joined with Sens. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. to incentivize development of technology to capture emitted carbon dioxide.

"My focus remains on large-scale CCS deployment through comprehensive clean coal technology legislation, and I'm looking forward to working with all of my colleagues in moving clean coal forward," Rockefeller said. "In addition to reforming these tax credits, which I believe we can do in the near term, I also sent letters last month to coal operators, industry groups, labor organizations and environmental advocates asking for their ideas about how to drive deployment of clean coal technology in the state."

The bill reconfigures a  tax credit passed in 2008 and allows companies to claim a credit of $20 per ton of carbon dioxide captured when producing energy.

Rockefeller said through the news release that he was developing a more comprehensive piece of legislation regarding CCS technology, but that the tax credits he was introducing in the Senate were "one important part" of the puzzle.

"We'll have to bring many components to bear in bringing Carbon Capture Utilization and Sequestration to full deployment. This is one piece of that puzzle," Rockefeller said. "I'm thankful that Senators Conrad and Enzi are shining a spotlight on an issue that's vitally important to West Virginia.

CCS technology would allow coal to continue to be a major force in energy generation but without emitting carbon dioxide.

"We know that CCS is technically viable and can be a win-win-win," Rockefeller said. "It can secure a future for coal in a world demanding cleaner sources of power. It can reduce harmful emissions into our environment. And the CO2 capture can be used to dramatically increase domestic oil production, through enhanced oil recovery. We still need to show that it can all be brought together at a large scale and continue investing in research to bring down the costs."

So far, however, carbon capture has proven too expensive to be viable for most companies.

According to Rockefeller's e-mail, the Conrad-Enzi bill amends current law to provide assurances to companies that the tax credit would no longer be available to them once construction of CCS projects began.