DV82XL has been kind enough to send me several references on foundations who are backing anti-nuclear activists. One of these with very deep pockets is the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation, where Barack Obama was listed as a member of the board of directors in 2002, and whose website is peppered with coal-related programs. E.g., New Era for Coal? E.g., a 2007 issue of their newsletter Back to the Source, which was one of DV82XL’s links:
Coal is abundant in this country and relatively cheap. That should make it an attractive energy source in an era when prices of oil, natural gas, and even corn for ethanol are all rising and Americans worry about dependence on foreign oil. No wonder electric generation from coal is projected to rise by 57 percent by 2030.
(…) “Coal is an important resource,” says Commission research director Sasha Mackler. “We have the largest coal reserves in the world. The coal industry supports a lot of rural communities. It’s an important part of the economy. We can continue to use coal even in an era of carbon limits.” The Commission’s report called for subsidies for deploying coal gasification (IGCC) and for demonstrating the feasibility of capturing and burying carbon. But although it kept a stern focus on environmental and climate costs in other areas, it gave scant attention to the environmental, health, and other upstream costs of mining coal.
Now, supported in part by Joyce funding, the Commission will remedy that by taking a broad look at coal production, which is expected to grow by 60 percent by 2030. It will solicit local input at stakeholder meetings in major coal producing areas in the western states, Appalachia, and the Midwest, and conduct detailed analysis of current and coming technologies for mining and processing coal, as well as the regulatory structure that governs the industry.
While memories of mining accidents in Utah and elsewhere are fresh in the public’s mind, it will look at what practices need to be improved to protect miners.
It will also recommend training programs for the next generation of high-tech mine workers, an industry where, in some areas, the average age is approaching fifty. On the environmental side, it will take a close look both at cleaner technologies and at regulations to ensure minimal environmental impact, and examine what can be done to remedy past harms. Meanwhile it will try to come up with more solid estimates of the true extent of the country’s coal reserves.
“No getting around it, coal production is a messy business,” acknowledges Mackler. “It has the reputation of being a 19th century resource—and that’s true. But there are opportunities to use state of the art advanced technologies that are clean and highly efficient, that get the most energy possible out of the resource.”
If you care to search their site, among the search words are “clean coal”, “cleaner coal”, IGCC, sequestration and gasification. Other code words are “National Commission on Energy Policy” (NCEP) which received Joyce funding “For a study by the National Commission on Energy Policy of the consequences of increasing coal production in the United States, including analysis of the environmental impacts of mining-collectively known as upstream impacts.”
I’m not sure if the commission is still alive. Their website is dead: http://www.energycommission.org. Searching for “National Commission on Energy Policy” found no mentions after 2007.
It’s clear that “clean coal” is prominent on the JF agenda. Is it there because the bootleggers are “baptizing” tactics to prolong the life of coal burning? Supporting that argument are the JF grants – who gets the money to do what. Most of the grants look to me like support for lobbying efforts: including anti-nuclear NGOs. E.g., I found almost $1 million going to NRDC in just two big grants.
Or is the funding because JF believes that proving the viability of IGCC –>> CCS is a top priority. It is a fact that China, India, … will satisfy their growing energy demand primarily with dirty coal unless CCS or nuclear are proven to be economic and achievable on time to match their demand projections. Today, nobody knows what CCS will cost, the best methods (IGCC may prove not be best place to start), nor where it is safe to bury the CO2.
The JF support for “clean coal via CCS” is consistent with the recommendations from the MIT Future of Coal study:
We conclude that CO2 capture and sequestration (CCS) is the critical enabling technology that would reduce CO2 emissions significantly while also allowing coal to meet the world’s pressing energy needs.
We believe that coal use will increase under any foreseeable scenario because it is cheap and abundant. Coal can provide usable energy at a cost of between $1 and $2 per MMBtu compared to $6 to $12 per MMBtu for oil and natural gas.
More on the MIT study and CCS in older posts, e.g. here, here, here, and here.