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Time for common sense

Congressmen David McKinley and Marc Veasey’s Bill “Scale Act” supporting a carbon capture infrastructure was puzzling. Today’s dynamics preclude the need for any carbon capture. Coal is on a fast track to oblivion, the exceptional characteristics of gas fueled systems makes them the Holy Grail for the times, renewables are increasing, and soon, a family of small ultra-safe nuclear reactors.

A quick look at carbon emissions tells all: 2019 world emissions totaled 33.5 billion tons, U.S. produced 5.1, China 11.5. While China adds one new coal plant per week, the U.S. retired 290 coal plants between 2010 and 2019 and will shut down the remaining by 2035. China’s current rate of adding coal plants will by 2035 have added some 500 to 600 plants producing another one billion tons CO2. The to-be-retired U.S. coal plants currently produce one billion tons CO2 annually. Replacing these coal plants with gas yields a net emission reduction of some 700 million tons CO2 bringing the 2019 total to 4.4 billion tons.

Electric Vehicles (EVs) will have a significant impact on oil and electricity demand. In the 2035 to 2040 timeframe, EV penetration could easily be one third of the vehicle mix. This reduces oil demand 1.8 billion barrels per year eliminating 750 million tons of CO2. Electricity demand will increase 20 percent. Using gas to meet the added electricity demand will produce about 275 million tons CO2 giving a net reduction of some 470 million tons CO2, bringing 2019 emissions to under 4 billion tons indicative of the 1960s.

The above estimates for CO2 emissions could be further reduced with renewables and nuclear.

Carbon capture is no panacea. Billions have been spent attempting to “make it work” all horrific technical and economic disasters. Utilities like Duke Power, Southern Company have said “no more.” The process is complex, the quantities of CO2 staggering, the safety issues of geologic long- term storage formidable. Most onerous will be the huge cost increase of electricity 2X to 3X. And a coal plant with carbon capture costs 5 to 6 times that of a gas system.

God blessed the U.S. with abundant natural gas, not so for China and others. Let’s use this gift and do what is best for the nation and its people. Abundant low cost energy is the key to job creation and economic wellbeing. All of this with huge emission reductions.

Augie Pitrolo

Washington, W.Va.

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