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Coal Companies Spend Peanuts to Deliver CCS Technology

Following up on our earlier post about senators’ requests for more funding for carbon-capture-and-storage (CCS) technology in the Senate bill, we were wondering just how much of its own money the coal industry spends on CCS.

Turns out, the average coal company spends very little.

Most major coal companies — including American Electric Power, Arch Coal, CONSOL Energy, Peabody Energy, and Southern Company — are members of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), the group that has come under fire in the past months for its role in sending forged letters to members of Congress criticizing the House climate bill. (Power giant Duke Energy announced after the scandal emerged earlier this month that they dropped out of the group). According to a report that the Center for American Progress put together in April, ACCCE members have committed to spending $3.6 billion on clean coal technology research from 2003 through 2017. Meanwhile, ACCCE members made a combined profit of $297 billion in profits between 2003 and 2008. As CAP points out, that means they are spending less than two cents in research on “clean coal” for every $1 of profit.

The federal government is also putting $2.8 billion toward those CCS projects. But the House climate and energy bill would provide $60 billion for CCS research and development through 2025 if it becomes law. The bill includes $1 billion for CCS demonstration and deployment each year, funded by a fee on consumers of fossil fuel-based electricity. And the bill provides rewards for early movers on CCS — for every ton of CO2 it sequesters, an electric utility that gets at least half its power from coal would receive bonus emission permits for 10 years.

So, while ACCCE plans to spend more than $45 million extolling the virtues of “clean coal” this year, they’re not putting much money down on making it a reality, and they’re doing their best to thwart a bill that would spend billions more on it.

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