The EPS does not mandate CO2 capture and storage (CCS), but it would in effect make it mandatory on those power plants which cannot otherwise reduce their pollution. This is especially relevant for older, inefficient coal plants, although the standing proposal would only affect new builds. Based on this, opponents of an EPS argue that there can be no in-effect mandating of a specific technology when the technology in question has not been proven.
Last week the US Congress held a hearing where the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) countered this. Director of climate programs at NRDC, David Hawkins, stated that CCS is a proven technology which is ready to be deployed.
“All aspects of…carbon capture and storage (CCS) systems have been demonstrated at commercial scale industrial facilities for decades,” said Hawkins. “They have operated reliably over multi-year periods to capture, transport, and safely dispose of millions of tons of CO2.”
The hearing was held jointly by the House Subcommittee on Environment and the Subcommittee on Energy and was entitled ‘Science of Capture and Storage: Understanding EPA’s Carbon Rules’.
Hawkins also made a point to criticize a bill which seeks to stop the EPA from setting and EPS on either new or existing power plants. H.R. 3826 has now passed the House of Representatives, sponsored by Representative Ed Whitfield, a Republican from the state of Kentucky.
“The bill passed by the House last week would create a huge obstacle to reviving any potential consensus for incentives to deploy CCS,” Hawkins testified. “It is based on a fundamentally flawed strategy: that by barring EPA from considering practical, available technologies that can reduce power plant carbon pollution, Congress can spur new coal plant investments and keep old coal plants running indefinitely. Succeeding with this strategy would require investors, power company managers, and state utility regulators to deny both economic and climate risks.”
Hawkins added in his statement: “To date, the power sector has not used CCS broadly; but not because of any technical shortcomings. Up to now, there has been no national requirement to limit carbon pollution from power plants.”
The full testimony of David G. Hawkins, Director of Climate Programs at NRDC is available here.
Read about an earlier hearing on the EPS here.