Climate Rules Needed for Carbon Capture to Be Viable, U.S. Says

Climate-change legislation to force reductions in greenhouse gases is a necessary ingredient to the widespread deployment of a process to store carbon pollution from coal plants, a U.S. task force said today in a report.

High costs, a lack of clear regulations and uncertainty about legal liability must be resolved for carbon capture to be widely deployed, according to the report released by 14 federal agencies.

“The lack of comprehensive climate-change legislation is the key barrier” to carbon capture and sequestration, according to the report’s executive summary. “Without a carbon price and appropriate financial incentives for new technologies, there is no stable framework for investment in low-carbon technologies.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, has abandoned efforts to pass legislation that would cut carbon-dioxide emissions, through a cap-and-trade system, after failing to find 60 votes needed to advance the measure.

The task force created by President Barack Obama in February included 14 agencies led by the Energy Department and Environmental Protection Agency. The group was directed to develop a plan for “widespread, cost-effective deployment” of carbon capture within 10 years, according to the report.

Lack of financial incentives and concern companies will be liable when carbon dioxide is released during transit are among obstacles to carbon-capture programs, according to the task force. Carbon dioxide in large amounts can led to death from asphyxiation.

The U.S. may need to limit certain claims, create an industry-backed trust fund to pay future damages or take on the liability after a site is closed, according to the report.

‘Work Together’

“Federal and state agencies must work together to enhance regulatory and technical capacity for safe and effective” deployment of carbon capture and storage, the report states.

The Energy Department is supporting up to 10 carbon capture and sequestration projects that may be operating by 2016, using $3.4 billion from the economic stimulus package.

The department has found that there are hundreds to thousands of years of storage potential in geologic formations in North America.

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