Here Comes Carbon Capture (and Mole People?)

Here’s the thing about carbon capture, which is about to go live in West Virginia. I’m slightly concerned that the mole people who live deep underground are going to get pissed off, and come to the surface world to do battle with us. Either that, or some other unintended consequences, like polluted drinking water or earthquakes:

Asked whether the injections of carbon dioxide could increase the frequency or magnitude of the small earthquakes that are common in the area, an E.P.A. official said it seemed unlikely.

Ah, “unlikely.”  Everyone’s favorite palliative.  But I actually do see the potential benefits, especially as someone who used to work for a Congressman from a coal mining area.  This country still gets about 50% of its energy from coal, and even the most optimistic estimates of renewable energy deployment think it will be many, many years before they’re able to replace the output of old king coal.

The somewhat surprising thing is that this region, which isn’t a big coal area, is benefiting.  Ramgen out in Bellevue got $20 million in stimulus money for the development of technology “for large-scale carbon capture and storage from industrial sources,” and EOS Alliance got $1 million for carbon capture and sequestration workforce training.

What it goes to show you how much of a leader this region can be in clean technology to the rest of the country and the world. All of the Recovery Act and State Energy Program dollars that come to this region for R&D and commercialization of clean energy goods and services are going to have big export potential, and we need to be thoughtful and coordinated about how we help develop and market these products for maximum benefit.

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