White House Cancels Clean Coal Project

Published April 13, 2015

A project with which President Obama hoped to cement his environmental legacy during his remaining years in office has failed.

The Obama administration touted FutureGen, and its successor, FutureGen 2.0, as the salvation of the coal-fired power plant industry, allowing coal to be burned without emitting greenhouse gases. The FutureGen projects were to retrofit a coal-fired power plant for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology.

The two projects have spent millions of tax dollars and been beset by multiple delays and cost overruns. As a result, in early February the Department of Energy (DOE) announced it will stop development of FutureGen 2.0.

Focused Like a Laser

Daniel Simmons, vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research, says the administration’s decision to turn its back on carbon capture should surprise no one.

“The administration has been laser-focused on killing coal since day one. The talk about the carbon capture program was merely to forestall complaints about their anti-coal regulatory agenda,” said Simmons.

“The ending of the FutureGen project is just one more example of the Obama administration’s war on affordable energy,” Simmons said.

Industry’s Strategic Error

Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, says most of the leaders of the coal industry made a huge mistake when they decided in the 1990s they didn’t need to fight global warming alarmism and policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because they could count on Congress to fund research into carbon capture and storage technology.

“One corporate executive told me over a decade ago that coal was too important to the American economy to kill, so Congress would spend whatever it took to make ‘clean coal’ technology work. That disastrous belief is the main reason why the Obama administration is now able to destroy the industry,” said Ebell.

Says Coal Will Survive

John Eick, director of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force, says energy security requires a diversity of fuels to meet the demands of different geographic regions and different energy supplies.

“Despite the Obama administration’s efforts, coal will likely continue to play an integral role in providing the general public with inexpensive and reliable baseload electricity that powers our economy and affords Americans a high standard of living,” Eick said.

Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) writes from Dallas, Texas.