The Climate Battle Is Ours To Lose, As Corporate Execs Fragment Over Cap & Trade Legislation
Contribution of technology segments to reduce CO2 emissions by
50 percent by 2050. Image credit:Strategic Analysis of the Global Status of Carbon Capture and Storage.Synthesis Report
Coal industry figure head, and Massey Energy CEO, Don Blankenship recently published an opinion piece in The Hill, in which he criticizes corporate supporters of Cap &Trade.; In it, he analogizes with the "You Lie" outburst from Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC), inferring it may be pertinent to to those execs who support Cap & Trade legislation before Congress. He further notes that "corporate proponents of cap-and-trade are often motivated by personal gain or a desire to appear sophisticated." Two points on this development. Blankenship's statements evidence the corporate world's cleaving broadly into two blocks. First there are the 'cool guys' - executives who want to actively manage the risk of climate change, working constructively with government to balance prospects for short-term financial success against long-term survival (for company and stockholders).
Then, there's the block led by those who prefer the ostrich maneuver or who are desperate to protect the very short-term bottom line. Execs from the 'Ostrich Block' often come from a corporate culture of actively refusing to compromise with neighbors and government. The former, the cool guys block, tends to have proactive corporate cultures which rely on innovation, team work, and rapid decision making. The dividing line between these two corporate blocks has a plate tectonics all it's own: an area that deserves much more attention on all matters climate.
The Obama Administration seems to be aware of these forces, per the NYT article: White House Wooing Business Execs on Cap and Trade
Let's see past the "coal block"
Blankenship's words on The Hill may carry weight with some executive peers, I suppose.
He certainly does have a point regarding the very high costs of carbon capture and storage (CCS), which are being ignored by almost everyone - in spite of clear and widely referenced documentation.
By Don's focusing all attention on all things coal, however, and by the print media always following that lead, the several proven, and far more cost-effective technologies (as pictured) are obscured from view. (A process I'm calling the 'coal block.')
CCS or "clean coal" is expensive and will take far too long to prove out.
With the climate talks convening in Copenhagen, and with US carbon emissions crashing with the economy, Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute has released a their strategic overview report on the status of "clean coal" (a pdf download), concluding that the combined CCS technologies would add 39 to 78 percent to the price of electricity, depending on locale and technology. The report basically says that without massive government investment now, CCS can not be proven out and deployed in time to make a difference.
Got that? A world class group of experts projects a very high increase in electric bills if "clean coal" technologies were deployed. Compare that to the 2 or 3 hundred bucks a year Cap & Trade is projected to cost the average US citizen. I have no idea who is most right on the subject of cost impacts and whether the Cap & Trade impact estimates even include CCS. But, I do know that when the estimates are that wide ranging and confusing that the squeaky wheel, the loudest voice, will always get the grease.
Don Blanckenship is telling it like he sees it; but, his reasoning is irrelevant to the vast pool of less carbon intensive industries, and is certainly misleading of elected officials. We don't need CCS as part of "Plan A" to avert a global climate disaster. There are more affordable and sustainable technology paths. Focus on the more cost effective technologies and the tectonic forces will subside.
The Cool Guys & Gals need to decide which side they are on. And, speak up.
Nuclear power expansion, and which industries see it as cost effective, is the next split to watch for.
More posts on electric bills.
The Electric Bill That Makes You Smile
Coal State Electric Bills Rising 7% To 100% - Even Without Cap & Trade
Trend Watch: US Electricity Use Falls Significantly - What Will It ...