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The Carbon Conundrum

Technology exists to sequester carbon-but will utilities ever buy in?
Fortnightly Magazine - August 2003

and not necessarily by addressing carbon emissions, are eligible for much of the available funds. Certainly such a tax credit structure will enable older, smaller coal-fired plants to run within stricter environmental constraints. But the tax credit structure proposed will do little to spur investment in new plants with carbon sequestration potential.

Those within the utility industry are concerned. Testifying before Congress in June, Randall Rush, power systems development facility director, Southern Co., summed up the situation. "Few things go more directly to the root of economic prosperity than secure, affordable, clean energy," he said. "If current funding trends for advanced coal-based energy systems are not reversed, the United States will take the wrong turn at the crossroad we face. Down that road lies increased energy prices, increased dependence upon overseas energy supplies, and decreased economic prosperity. The alternative is to reverse the trend in federal [R&D] spending for advanced coal technology and take the more rational road toward a secure, prosperous energy future."

  1. The President's Carbon Intensity Reduction Initiative," keynote address by Dr. John Marburger, director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President at U.S. DOE Conference on Carbon Sequestration, Alexandria, Va., May 6, 2003.
  2. Remarks of Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham to the National Coal Council on Nov. 21, 2002.
  3. National Coal Council, Issues at 65, May 2003.

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