Back to Publications

Clean Coal Technology, Gas Storage, and Carbon Sequestration Projects on Federal Lands

Brian McPherson, Energy Development: Access, Siting, Permitting, and Delivery on Public Lands

The simple idea of carbon sequestration is to capture CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants and other point sources and sequester them in soils, vegetation, the ocean, and deep underground, just as nature has stored natural gas and other fluids for millions of years. These sequestration technologies may serve as “bridge technologies” that buy time to develop and implement new energy sources that don't emit CO2. Of particular interest is geologic sequestration, or injection of CO2 into deep subsurface formations. The ultimate goal of sequestration is to prevent CO2 from entering the atmosphere and reduce the “greenhouse effect” thought to cause global warming.

Numerous groups have recently completed studies about sequestration and its potential costs and risks. These include the U.S. Congressional Budget Office and the Electric Power Research Institute, as well as numerous university-based studies such as those by Princeton, Stanford and M.I.T. A notable conclusion of all of these studies is that a single approach to solve the global carbon emissions problem, the proverbial “silver bullet,” does not exist. Rather, a portfolio of options must be deployed, including increasing renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal, increasing non- [12-2] fossil fuel energy sources such as nuclear power, increasing efficiency in general, and implementation of se