Quick, Senator Voinovich… retire!:
Declaring that a major global-warming bill cannot pass the Senate, Republican George V. Voinovich of Ohio and Democrat Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia want to spend $20 billion in the next decade to develop a commercially viable way to burn coal cleanly.
If the bill wins congressional approval, the federal government would funnel billions of dollars to utility companies seeking ways to burn coal mined in Ohio and West Virginia without emitting carbon dioxide, which is believed to cause global warming.
The measure, which was introduced yesterday, would be financed with a fee imposed on utility rates paid by consumers and companies. Because the fee would amount to a tax, it very likely will be opposed by most Republicans.
I am not convinced CO2 is pollution, but it is required to believe it is to make “clean coal” a legitimate policy goal. It is possible to produce CO2-free energy from coal… but it just takes a huge proportion of the energy produced to do it.
Billions have been spent since the 1980s on various versions of this concept, including Preisdnet Bush’s “FutureGen” and the “Clean Coal Power Initiative.” The problems, we don’t know how to make coal plans cleaner AND profitable at the same time.
If something like clean coal technology has economic merit, it will have no trouble attracting investors. If it doesn’t, then no amount of fees extracted from you by Sen. Voinovich will magically give it economic merit.
And the last thing Ohio’s struggling economy needs is higher energy prices.