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Podesta Undermines Obama’s Climate Agenda

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White House adviser John Podesta may have undermined the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon dioxide limits on coal plants by saying that carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is “a ways off.”

The EPA has set carbon dioxide emissions limits so low that not even the most efficient coal-fired power plant can meet them unless they utilize CCS technology, which industry says is not ready for widespread commercial use.

The EPA, however, says the technology is ready to be used in commercial coal power generation, but Podesta’s comments at a Columbia University energy forum seem to indicate that the Obama administration actually believes CCS is not ready.

Wall Street Journal reporter Amy Harder tweeted from the Columbia University forum Thursday that Podesta, who was brought into the White House to help President Obama push through climate policies, said CCS was “a ways off in my opinion still.”

@ColumbiaUEnergy, John @Podesta44 on carbon, capture & sequestration technology: “That’s a ways off in my opinion still.”

— Amy Harder (@AmyAHarder) May 8, 2014

For the EPA to mandate that coal plants use CCS to comply with carbon dioxide emissions standards, the technology must be “adequately demonstrated” and have examples in the private sector that don’t receive federal funding.

EPA chief administrator Gina McCarthy has told Congress that she believes CCS is a viable option for coal plants, saying the agency has cited numerous examples in their regulatory analysis.

“But I will say that on the basis of the information that we see and what is out in the market today and what is being contemplated today, that CCS technology is feasible,” McCarthy told the House Energy and Commerce Committee last year.

Podesta’s saying that CCS technology is still “a ways off” seems to contradict the story being put forward by the EPA that the technology is feasible and can be adopted by the coal industry.

Lawmakers have disputed her claim that CCS is currently a viable technology. Republicans on the House Science Committee recently filed a 1,300-page comment on the EPA’s coal plant rule, called NSPS. Republicans say they have obtained evidence showing that the EPA ignored the advice of scientists and experts who said CCS wasn’t ready for deployment and rushed the NSPS rule through without proper scientific review.

“EPA is recklessly rushing ahead,” said Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith. “In this proposal, the EPA disregarded the law requiring independent scientific review; silenced its scientific advisors; denied review of carbon storage science; and adopted an energy policy that ignores technical and practical realities.”

“The NSPS fundamentally obscures the state of technology and rejects sound energy policy. In so doing, the EPA displays a striking disregard for the law and scientific integrity, while jeopardizing our nation’s future,” Smith said.

(H/T William Yeatman)

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