Stephen Smith on WMNF

George Cavros | September 7, 2010 | Podcasts

DOE announces funding for “clean coal” R&D but environmentalists are skeptical

Reposted from WMNF interview with Kate Bradshaw.

Today U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the federalgovernment will fund 22 clean coal research and development projectsacross the country, including one in Florida. Environmentalists of areskeptical about how green that technology is, but Chu said theinvestment will create jobs while positioning the US as a global cleanenergy leader.

So-called “clean coal” technology involves stripping coal emissionsof carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas. The CO2 would likely then bestored in underground rock formations. Chu said President Obama wantsto see this technology up and running in the next decade.

Types of research and development projects include developinglarge-scale carbon capture and storage methods and finding the rightsites for storing CO2. International corporation Siemens will receivemoney for the Florida project.

According to that company’s Web site, such technology would usesynthetic fuel made from coal, which IT claims can be processed into ahydrogen fuel. The Department of Energy claims that that processcreates concentrated carbon dioxide that makes it easier to store.Environmentalists are skeptical. Stephen Smith is director of theSouthern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Smith says the alliance supports the research, but hopes theindustry won’t be hasty in applying a potentially hazardous technologythey know little about.

Smith says he has three major concerns about CO2 capture and storage.

He says another potential hazard of storing carbon underground isthe possibility of the deadly gas seeping out of the ground intoresidences.

James Markowsky, Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary forFossil Energy, said the key aspect in preventing that is finding theright geologic formations for carbon storage.

Stephen Smith of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy said there’sanother big concern. That’s the possibility that companies would try tostore CO2 in the deep ocean.

A total of $575 million from the American Recovery and ReinvestmentAct will fund projects related to so-called “clean coal” in 15 states.

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