President Obama’s new energy policies are pitting mining companies and environmentalists against each other as the federal government explores new ways of storing carbon emissions. Mining companies and the lawmakers who support them say that establishing these new measures could cost billions while environmentalists say the price is not important in comparison to the ecological damage of continuing common practices.
According to Kentucky.com, “The Department of Energy will soon announce whether it will use $1 billion in stimulus funds to resurrect FutureGen, a proposal to create in Illinois the world’s first coal-fired power plant designed to capture and bury carbon emissions underground.” The Bush administration decided against building the plant because it would cost more than $1.8 billion. The Government Accountability Office says that price tag is more like $1.3 billion. Proponents of “clean coal” argue that not building that plant put the effort back a decade.
Renewable resources are front-and-center with lawmakers these days, after a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) coal ash pond failed last December, dumping more than a billion gallons of toxic coal ash sludge on to an east Tennessee community. Previously unregulated by the federal government, coal ash ponds and storage units will soon have to follow standards outlined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for regulating coal ash.
The economic stimulus plan has $3.4 billion for the coal industry, as opposed to $16.8 billion for renewable energy and efficiency programs. The Obama administration also is says it will implement a program that would cap companies’ carbon emissions.