Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bush’s Clean Coal About-Face

Am I the only one thinking President Bush doesn’t take this State of the Union stuff seriously? In Monday night’s SOTU address, the president declared:
To build a future of energy security, we must trust in the creative genius of American researchers and entrepreneurs and empower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy technology. (Applause.) Our security, our prosperity, and our environment all require reducing our dependence on oil. Last year, I asked you to pass legislation to reduce oil consumption over the next decade, and you responded. Together we should take the next steps: Let us fund new technologies that can generate coal power while capturing carbon emissions.
Yes, let us fund those new technologies, shall we? Oh, wait, not so fast! Today we have this piece of news:
Energy Department Scraps Futuristic Coal Plant in Illinois

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Energy Department on Wednesday canceled a futuristic, virtually emissions-free coal plant scheduled to be built in Illinois, saying it preferred to spend the money on a handful of projects around the country that would demonstrate the capture and burial of carbon dioxide from commercial power plants.


The shift has stunned officials in Illinois, where an industry group announced in December it would build the $1.8 billion FutureGen plant, three-fourths of which was being paid for by the federal government -- funds now no longer available.

The FutureGen program was envisioned as a unique research project that would trigger development of a virtually pollution-free coal plant where carbon dioxide emissions would be captured and buried deep beneath the earth. It would produce both electricity and hydrogen.

Well, so much for that.

For the record, I’m not advocating this technology. Coal is a fossil fuel, and we’re going to run out of it just as we’re running out of oil. But this just further demonstrates how things like the State of the Union address have become just another piece of kabuki theater, with absolutely zero basis in real policy or, for that matter, fact.

(h/t, ThinkProgress)