Carbon sequestration--an ungainly phrase that some environmentalists hope we never need to master--has made its debut, at least conceptually, in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Carbon sequestration itself has been used successfully in limited applications by oil drillers who inject carbon dioxide into wells to help force oil to the surface.
These days, however, the big plan for carbon sequestration involves the capture and injection of carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal-burning power plants into deep underground voids, like abandoned coal or salt mines or even deep under the ocean floor where it presumably would be 'stored' forever.
The payoff is that energy companies would be able to continue burning plentiful American coal without being criticized for contributing to global warming by releasing CO2, one of the major greenhouse gases, up their smokestacks.
In New Jersey, the concept of carbon sequestration was floated last week in a proposal for a new coal-fired energy plant in the industrial city of Linden. The plan calls for piping the CO2 to a deep grave at sea. Several noted environmental organizations, within days, announced plans for a coalition to oppose the project.
The term has been discussed more frequently in recent years in Pennsylvania, a state which stands to benefit from carbon sequestration because it has both plentiful amounts of coal to be mined and a plentiful supply of abandoned mines to be filled.
A recent report by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources says that the Keystone State has an estimated geologic capacity to store hundreds of years’ worth of carbon emissions at present rates.
The report identified four "potential geologic sequestration reservoirs in western and north-central Pennsylvania, each of which meet the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s criteria for consideration as a target for permanent sequestration of CO2, that is, occurring at a minimum depth of 2,500 feet."
While cautioning that numerous questions and concerns about the technology remain and need to be explored, the report notes that carbon sequestration offers Pennsylvania the opportunity to "substantially reduce... global warming emissions and protect our environment, our economy, and public health" while preserving Pennsylvania's "position as a net energy exporter and creating jobs in the process."
Obviously, carbon sequestration, is something we're going to be hearing a lot more about.
A good old New Jersey environmental controversy
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INSIGHTS: Carbon Sequestration
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Sierra Club's Earth Day New Jersey Report Card
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