Report: Carbon capture and sequestration expensive, inefficient, unreliable – June 20, 2017

BILLINGS – Today, the Western Organization of Resource Councils released a report criticizing federal and state policies that subsidize and support the expansion of carbon capture and sequestration technology (CCS). CCS technology is expensive, inefficient, dirty and unreliable; by contrast, renewable energy is cleaner, cheaper and faster to deploy, according to the report, titled Too Good to be True: The Risks of Public Investment in Carbon Capture and Sequestration.

The report details the failed attempts at capturing and storing power plant carbon dioxide pollution despite billions of taxpayer dollars spent so far on the technology.

“The fact of the matter is that CCS can’t survive unless the taxpayers pay for it,” said Bob LeResche, Chair of Powder River Basin Resource Council and WORC board member. “After billions of federal dollars and dozens of projects, there is only one operating carbon capture coal power plant in the whole country. There are better solutions out there.”

The report draws on academic research, economic data, and case studies of several capture and storage projects to recount CCS’s technical problems, inefficiencies, and cost overruns from power plant to transportation infrastructure to storage facilities and purported “utilization” technologies such as enhanced oil recovery. At the same time that CCS projects are encountering these myriad headwinds, the report finds, renewable energy generation is taking off.

“CCS should have opponents on both sides of the aisle in Congress. For those worried about climate change, CCS fails to adequately capture and store carbon pollution. For those worried about federal spending, CCS is a costly waste of taxpayer dollars,” LeResche said.

Instead, CCS subsidies and tax credits enjoy support from members of both parties. The previous Congress saw a handful of bills introduced to extend and increase tax credits for companies that try to capture and store carbon pollution. Several of those bill sponsors plan to  reintroduce their legislation in the current Congress.

The report recommends discontinuing public investment in CCS technology and instead focusing public and private resources on affordable and technologically demonstrated clean energy sources that will result in a market-based, low-carbon energy future with cheaper utility bills, cleaner air, and a reduced threat of catastrophic global climate change.

A downloadable electronic copy of the report and the accompanying Executive Summary can be found here.

The Western Organization of Resource Councils is a seven-state network of grassroots community organizations working to strengthen communities and shape agriculture and energy policies. Northern Plains Resource Council is a member of WORC.