My first unsuspecting step toward the rabbit hole occurred when I read a comment by Dave Crass, partner in a law firm that pays attention to such things as "carbon capture." Crass had a few words to the wise for his audience of ethanol producers:
Crass said the idea of a carbon cap-and-trade system is not going to die, even if federal lawmakers are unable to pass a bill. “If congress can’t do it, [President Barack Obama's] administration is going to,” he said. “Congress and the [U.S.] EPA are sort of in a little race to implement climate change regulation. If congress can’t agree on an approach, then the Obama administration is going to press forward with these regulatory approaches.In Crass' humble opinion, then, it really doesn't matter what the American public desires or wants to pay for. What Obama wants, Obama gets. I can't say that any events I've witnessed since Obama's inauguration contradict that conclusion.
And then I came upon this little headline at Crass' Web site:
U.S. Department of Energy Makes $1.4 billion Available for Carbon Capture and Storage and Beneficial Carbon Dioxide Use
Tune up your keypad, grant applications are due August 7, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Just tell the Department of Energy how you would use that money to "capture and sequester CO2 emissions from industrial sources into underground formations, including deep saline formations and deep geologic systems such as basalts, operating or depleted oil and gas fields, and unmineable coal seams," maybe "under a variety of geologic settings."
Or perhaps you could develop a "novel" approach for converting CO2"to usable products" other than the bubbles in your carbonated beverage.
Don't think somebody's not ahead of you though, way ahead. The International Business Times has been watching:
FutureGen is a "clean-coal" power plant project initiated under George Bush back in 2003. "Clean coal" in this case does not mean scrubbing the sooty black stuff out of emissions before releasing them into the atmosphere. No. Here in the U.S. we already have that technology. It means scrubbing the almost non-existent CO2 out of the emissions, in case some escaped and maliciously drifted over a soybean plant, causing it to grow an extra soybean or two.
The Department of Energy pulled its funding of FutureGen in January of 2008 as the result of cost overruns caused by inflation and through-the-roof increases in the costs of steel, concrete, and power-plant components. Those raw material costs were rising dramatically because other countries, like China and India, were building hundreds of coal-burning power plants, many without any kind of scrubbers. (The cap-and-trade bill that the House of Representives just passed ensures that American taxpayers pay China and other countries to scrub that black stuff out of their coal-fired manufacturing plants, or at least tell us that they did so--no inspectors required.)
Obama is giving FutureGen another chance, this time in the form of more than a billion dollars (to start), about a third of the projected La La Land cost, sans overruns. Obama has a large vocabulary, they say, but cost overruns, America has learned from experience, doesn't seem to have made it into his glossary.
The other two thirds of FutureGen's cost was supposed to be carried by 11 power companies from the U.S., UK, Australia, and China. Recently, two of the biggest stakeholders in the project, American Electric Power Co., and Southern Co. backed out of the deal, billion-dollar government handout notwithstanding.
There are a lot of reasons why a giant American power company might want to pull out of a "clean-coal" consortium in the middle of a war on energy use in the middle of a stock market collapse in the middle of a global economic crisis. Among those reasons, may be, just maybe, that it doesn't want one of Obama's czars moving into a corner office. One thing leads to another, and, these days, you never know.
The only thing you know for sure is: What Obama wants, Obama gets.
Just a thought.