questin to sequester
Millions in cash deposits from the coal industry, not pictured above.
Via the mighty mighty Grist:
"Carbon sequestration" is a plan to capture and bury as much as 10 trillion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide deep in the ground, hoping it will stay there forever. (A ton is 2,000 pounds; a metric tonne is 2,200 pounds; ten trillion is 10,000,000,000,000.) Though the plan has not yet received any substantial publicity, it is very far along.
The purpose of the plan is to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas). A carbon sequestration program would capture the gas, turn it into a liquid, transport it through a network of pipelines, and pump it into the ground, intending for it to stay buried forever.
From an industrial perspective, carbon sequestration seems like a winning strategy. If it succeeded in reducing carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, it would allow coal and oil firms to retain and even expand their market share in the energy business throughout the 21st century, eliminating the need for substantial innovation. Carbon sequestration would also greatly reduce the incentive for Congress to invest in renewable energy, which competes with coal and oil.
Furthermore, carbon sequestration might deflect the accusation that the coal and oil corporations bear responsibility (and perhaps even legal liability) for the major consequences of global warming (more and bigger hurricanes, droughts, floods, and fires, for example). Finally, if the carbon sequestration plan were to fail, with grievous consequences for human civilization, failure would occur decades or centuries into the future, when the current generation of decision-makers, researchers, philanthropists, and environmental advocates could no longer be held accountable.
After trillions of tons of carbon dioxide have been buried in the deep earth, if even a tiny proportion of it leaks back out into the atmosphere, the planet could heat rapidly and civilization as we know it could be disrupted. Quite plausibly, the surface of the Earth could become uninhabitable for humans. Thus, one way or another, the future of humanity is at stake in the decision whether to endorse carbon sequestration or to develop the many renewable energy technologies that are available to eliminate our dependence on carbon-based fuels.
To one degree or another, carbon sequestration will benefit all of the industries involved, allowing them to continue business as usual, removing the need for substantial innovation, and reducing competition from renewable fuels. However, it is the coal industry that will benefit the most. One could argue that, without carbon sequestration, the coal industry itself cannot survive. Once large-scale carbon sequestration has begun, the coal industry will be free to unleash an enormous new enterprise turning coal into liquid fuels. The technology for coal-to-liquids, or CTL, was fully developed decades ago. CTL was devised by German chemists in the 1920s, and the Nazis could not have pursued World War II without it. Unfortunately, coal-to-liquids is an exceptionally dirty technology that produces twice as much carbon dioxide per gallon of fuel compared to petroleum. Carbon sequestration would bury that extra carbon dioxide in the ground, thus solving the coal industry's biggest problem, making coal-to-liquids feasible, and assuring a future for the coal industry itself.
Front-runner Hill has been outfront on supporting carbon sequestration, dark-horsey Dodd says no. And the Repubs continue to be hopeless.