Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology is being discussed as a promising way to stave off emissions from coal-fired plants. I know some environmentalists scorn the idea of pumping CO2 into the ground, but many experts believe that CCS could help keep global warming in check. For better or for worse, they say, coal will remain an important energy source, because it remains cheap and abundant even as oil prices climb.
Now comes news that the U.S. Energy Department is launching a $3 million project to squeeze the last drops oil out of an Alabama field. The empty site, they say, could then be used to bury carbon dioxide from the coal and natural-gas plants nearby.
But first, of course, an additional 64 million barrels of crude will be extracted from the earth — adding to the CO2 levels in the atmosphere.
I’m not sure how the two sides stack up: on the one hand, CCS could offset emissions from nearby plants; on the other hand, far before that possibility is ever realized, millions of gallons of new oil will release its CO2 content.
In sum, the ramifications of this project are far from clear, just like the odd title of the news report: “US Funds Project to Pump Oil, Fight Global Warming.”