WHEN the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently released its standards for carbon dioxide emissions from power plants that are built in the future, it hyped carbon capture and storage (CCS).
"The standards will minimize carbon pollution by guaranteeing reliance on advanced technologies like efficient natural gas units and efficient coal units implementing partial carbon capture and storage," reads an EPA fact sheet.
The EPA's goal is to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere from energy production to try to slow the effects of climate change.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, speaking at a Congressional hearing last month, dismissed concerns about the cost and viability of the technology.
"On the basis of the information that we see and what is out in the market today and what is being contemplated today . . . CCS technology is feasible," McCarthy said.
That depends on the definition of "feasible."
A front page story in last Monday's Wall Street Journal illustrates just how far carbon capture technology is from becoming a viable option for coal-burning power plants.
Mississippi Power's Kemper County plant is supposed to turn low-grade coal into a clean-burning gas, while capturing 65 percent of the carbon dioxide. EPA Acting Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe told the Journal, "We're confident plants of the future will be built with this technology."
Well, not with the way this project is going.
Kemper has had massive cost overruns. The original budget of $2.9 billion has soared to $4.7 billion. Taxpayers are providing up to $700 million in subsidies for the project.