Bodman Says Coal Is The Workhorse Of The Nation's Electric Power Industry


Samuel Bodman

   Secretary Samuel Bodman spoke to the participants at the fifth annual conference on carbon capture and sequestration held recently in Alexandria, Virginia.
    "I know you are going to spend several days here discussing the latest developments in carbon sequestration, and what our Administration and our Department are doing to accelerate this technology. And I know that you will be hearing from Jeff Jarrett, our Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, Dr. Orbach from our Office of Science, and Steve Eule, who runs our Climate Change Technology Program, among others", said Secretary Bodman.
    Mr. Bodman took the opportunity to frame these discussions in the larger context of what President Bush has asked the Department Of Energy (DOE) to do to ensure clean and reliable supplies of energy for the future and how coal, and specifically carbon sequestration, fit within that larger picture.
    The President laid out his challenge in his most recent State of the Union Address, where he announced the American Competitiveness Initiative and the Advanced Energy Initiative. These new programs are designed to help the United States maintain its economic and scientific leadership in the world and support the development of transformational technologies that could change the way the world produces and uses energy. 
    The American Competitiveness Initiative is a commitment to basic physical science research and math and science education that will help guarantee that America has the human capital necessary to remain the world's science leader for many years to come. The President's budget for the next fiscal year calls for a 14 percent increase in funding for the Department of Energy's Office of Science, which is, we hope, the first step in a doubling of the Office of Science budget by 2016. 
    The initiative also calls for new programs in science and math education and for making the federal research and development tax credit permanent. To complement this effort, President Bush also announced the new Advanced Energy Initiative, to increase spending on clean-energy sources that will transform our transportation sector, indeed the whole economy, and reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels. 
Part of this initiative includes the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. This is a groundbreaking new international effort to help meet the world's rapidly growing electricity needs with safe, emissions-free nuclear power, while enhancing our ability to keep nuclear technology and material out of the hands of those who seek to use it for non peaceful purposes. 
    In addition to safe nuclear power, the Advanced Energy Initiative also seeks to strengthen our energy diversity with new investments in clean energy sources such as developing better batteries for hybrid electric cars, and enhancing wind power.
In addition, we are aggressively pursuing the technology to develop commercially viable biofuels from a variety of plant sources, including agricultural waste products. We are investing $148 million in our Solar American program, and we are committing $289 million to continue the President's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative. 
The United States is pursuing a multi-faceted approach that seeks to encourage a whole range of promising energy sources to help maintain a diverse energy portfolio and promote energy security. 
    Bodman said, "One of the most important of these energy sources, which I have not yet mentioned, also happens to be our most affordable and our most abundant. Of course, I am speaking about coal."
    "In fact, the document explaining the Advanced Energy Initiative notes, coal is the workhorse of the Nation's electric power industry. In order to make sure that coal continues to play that critical role, we are working to develop the technologies that, day by day, month by month, are helping to make coal a cleaner, more environmentally friendly energy source. That is why the President's 2007 budget calls for a substantial investment of $281 million in clean coal programs," he said.
The coal industry has made enormous strides over the last few decades in reducing sulfur and nitrogen emissions. Coal-fired power plants being built today are over 90% cleaner in emissions of particulate matter compared to their counterparts in 1970, when the Clean Air Act was passed. They also must meet stringent limits for mercury emissions, a pollutant for which there was no national limitation for power plants until last spring. That is great, however, there is more to be done to make coal plants even cleaner. 
    "In addition, we face the challenge of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. And the most promising technology for doing that is precisely the subject of this very impressive conference. We know, through our participation in successful projects like the Weyburn site located in North Dakota, and others, that geologic storage of carbon is technologically possible. What we need to do now is make sequestration commercially viable. First, I want to congratulate and thank all of those involved in the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships Initiative. This is the infrastructure of organizations and industry that has the practical understanding to develop the carbon sequestration technologies we will need to build throughout North America. I know that the members of the Partnerships will begin validating the most promising storage opportunities in their regions as they conduct 35 field tests in geologic and terrestrial sinks. That is the domestic side." 
    On the international side, Secretary Bodman reiterated the Administration's commitment to working with our friends abroad through the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum. The addition of Saudi Arabia to the Forum now brings the membership to 21 nations plus the EU, and he said he is looking forward to more nations joining this effort. In addition to its own important work, he hopes that the CSLF can become a pathway to joining the historic FutureGen project.
    In March, India became the first foreign government to join the FutureGen governmental steering committee. They also agreed to contribute $10 million to the project. 
"We are very happy to welcome India in to our effort to build the first zero-emissions coal power plant, and we also hope that other nations participating in the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF) will follow India's lead, and accept our invitation to join FutureGen."
    "That brings me to the announcement I wish to make. As you know, the FutureGen Alliance has formally received the proposals from those states interested in hosting the project. I want to emphasize that it is the Alliance, not DOE, that has received and will evaluate, the proposals. But Mike Mudd, the FutureGen Alliance CEO, was kind enough to let me reveal the list." 
    "I am pleased to say that twelve sites in seven states are in the running to host the world's first near-zero emission coal-fueled power plant that will generate electricity and hydrogen while capturing and permanently storing carbon dioxide deep underground."
    In response to a public Request for Proposals issued by the FutureGen Alliance, formal proposals were received to locate the project in or near Effingham, IL; Marshall, IL; Mattoon, IL; Tuscola, IL; Henderson County, KY; Bowman County, ND; Meigs County, OH; Tuscarawas County, OH; Odessa, TX; Jewett, TX; Point Pleasant, WV; and Gillette, WY.
    Bodman said, "Let me be the first to thank everyone who submitted a proposal, and offer my best wishes to all those who are participating. Let me also offer my thanks and encouragement to the FutureGen Alliance, which will now undertake the challenging work of evaluating these proposals and, subject to all required environmental reviews, make the final selection of where they will build it. We are all excited about taking this major step toward our final goal. When completed, FutureGen will bring us much closer to a future in which coal-fueled power will not only will produce hydrogen and electricity with near-zero emissions, but will operate with some of the most advanced, cutting-edge technology." cl



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