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Obama’s Plan: Greening Up Coal Power Plants by Stimulating Oil Extraction

87bf50cefaffa52a460f6a7067007a9d 300x182 Obamas Plan: Greening Up Coal Power Plants by Stimulating Oil ExtractionIs it possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while encouraging investors to put their money on coal-fired power plants and oil?

According to Barack Obama’s new strategy, the answer is yes, and this can only be achieved with new carbon capture technologies. The high price of these, however, did show that it was all too good to be true, hence the ultimate solution was to come up with a trade-off.

Carbon capture technologies have been labelled as one of the few means to fight climate change, and what is more, it turns out they have come as a salvation to the coal and oil industries. With new green renewable energy sources, companies that own carbon-releasing facilities have been not only struggling to make profit, but also found it hard to maintain their reputation.

It seems, however, that back-up technologies, proposed by the American government, are bringing light to the business. This was clearly shown in the marketing campaign of the newest American coal-fired power plant, which is soon to open its doors as the cleanest, and of course most expensive, plant of its kind, thanks to such carbon capture technologies.

Something that the American government failed to acknowledge and take into account, however, was the cost associated with removing carbon dioxide from the plant before it can be released into the atmosphere. Carbon capture projects have already received over $1 billion from Obama’s office, while the administration is desperately trying to introduce a compulsory carbon capture technologies to be implemented in all new coal-fired power plants.

The idea was great, and of course encouraged by everyone, especially the government and the two major energy industries- coal and oil, but there are two pressing questions that remain. Firstly, how will these expensive technologies be funded, and secondly, what will happen to the carbon, which is buried underground?

Well, Obama seems to have the answers. Struggling to realize his green vision because of various complications and sky-high prices, he made a not-so-green deal, which stimulates oil extraction. In a nutshell, the plan is to give subsidies to oil companies, which by taking out oil reserves, will free space for carbon storage into the empty oil fields.

It sounds like a pretty sweet deal, which in theory should keep everyone happy. Green activists will get their carbon-free energy production, coal-fired power plants will continue functioning, and the oil industry will blossom.  Of course it does not quite work like this, although it managed to silence a big proportion of all parties involved. Some still argue that the government did not consider all implications of the oil subsidy, including the amount of carbon released during oil extraction. The administration, however, answered to this by claiming that this oil would have been extracted anyway, only this time there will be a green technology that will benefit from it.

It remains to be seen how successful Obama’s ambition to promote green technologies while stimulating carbon-emitting industries to implement clean practices will be. Numerous scientific studies link underground carbon storage to earthquakes and landslides, but it seems none of them have had proofs strong enough to stop the implementation of the new policies.

One thing has to be said. This whole process sounds like a brilliant short term solution. But when will the long term one come? The question still remains.

Image (c) AP

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About the author

Mila is a researcher and scientist with a great passion for soils, rocks, plants, water and all environment-related aspects of our surroundings. For the past 10 years, during the course of her educational and professional development, she travelled all over Europe, Africa and Asia, driven by her passion for the environment and urge to seek challenges.

Comments

2 comments
JOE MATTHIS
JOE MATTHIS

Great news! Newly discovered material can be the ultimate storage system for carbon. It's called WOOD. The coffee table in your living room is sequestered carbon not currently in the carbon cycle. As a matter of fact all the 2x4's used in the construction of your home are sequestered carbon, not to mention the asphalt shingles, plastics and all manner of textiles. All of these materials represent sequestered carbon. I live in a log home so 99% of my home is sequestered carbon. Look if you want to sequester carbon that's a fine goal but if you bury pure CO2 your just making a ticking time bomb. It might be fine to do on Mars which is geologicly dead sorta but our continents still move and there isn't a place on this planet that doesn't move. You want to bury something dig a hole and bury all the paper generated by our government should take care of millions and millions of tons of carbon and it will be in a form that wont come back to haunt us later. Truth is people there is no carbon problem, of course you would never know it because you only hear about what human activity ADDS to the carbon cycle and not what is being taken out. Just try to do the math, numbers hardly ever lie unlike people who want to throw money at an imaginary carbon problem. Oh and by the way Global Warming only happens during the day and the climate has been changing since the planet formed, and last but not least you don't have a dog in the fight. 

NeilFarbstein
NeilFarbstein

Whats gonna happen when the carbon dioxide leaks back up to surface? There are scenarios where stored CO2 comes out of the ground and raises the greenhouse effect suddenly. The rock formations that react with the CO2 that will not out gas CO2.Underground  CO2 pumping should be limited to those rock formations. And why has so little R&D been conducted on converting CO2 to polycarbonate plastic? That will make money from the CO2 sequestration process.

And there's no way it will get back into the air.

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