Thursday, October 4, 2007
As my Climate Change and Energy class was talking on Tuesday, I floated a modest proposal.
Cap and trade CO2 emissions at existing power plants and other industrial consumers of fossil fuels to meet the 80% decrease from 1990 level by 2050 goal, but also put in place a little command and control regulation. With respect to new coal-fired (and I suppose natural gas) plants, impose a uniform, national technology-based performance standard under the Clean Air Act requiring new plant carbon dioxide emissions to be equal to or less than the emissions from IGCC with carbon sequestration and storage [i.e. roughly zero]. To assure a level playing field, impose a ban on licensing of any new nuclear power plant unless and until there are fully permitted, environmentally safe locations for permanent storage of all nuclear waste produced from existing plants and the plant to be licensed. This would assure that every new power plant built be roughly carbon neutral and more environmentally benign.
While arguably burdensome NSPS and NSR requirements for new power plants previously created strong incentives for utilities and others to continue to use old plants, retool them, and game applicability thresholds set on modification/reconstruction, those incentives would be substantially reduced if existing plants faced a relatively steep CO2 phase-down requirement.
So what's wrong with a little command & control? It would certainly create strong incentives for the power industry to install IGCC or develop alternative technologies, and hasten the establishment of CSS technology and sites. From what I read, it is technically feasible to require IGCC and CSS. We have plentiful coal resources. We could share any clean coal and nuclear waste storage technological developments fostered by these requirements with other countries which undoubtedly will be using more coal and nuclear.
And....the cost per ton of carbon dioxide emissions avoided is likely to be much less than that achieved through ethanol, biodiesel, and hybrid transportation technologies. So start here now! Besides, if we can get clean electricity, then the electric car may rise from the dead and the production of hydrogen for transportation may become economically feasible.
What do you think???