Energy Conferees Agree on Costello Clean Coal Language
House and Senate conferees working on a final version of a national energy policy (H.R. 4) today agreed on clean coal provisions. Primarily authored by Congressman Jerry Costello (D-IL), a senior Member of the Science Committee, the legislation represents the most significant revision of the clean coal program in years. It authorizes $1.8 billion over nine years for research and demonstration projects in advanced clean coal technologies with the goal of reaching emission levels comparable with natural gas.
At least eighty percent of the money would be used for research on the most promising technology of the future, gasification, while up to twenty percent of the funds could go to other coal research initiatives designed to improve efficiency and reduce emissions, including research on retrofitting of existing plants. The Energy Conference will continue for several weeks while other issues are negotiated with a goal of passing the conference report before the end of the year.
"There is wide, bipartisan agreement in Congress that coal must remain an integral part of our national effort to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil. At the same time, we must burn coal as cleanly as possible," said Costello. "The bottom line is we have no energy source that can replace coal today. Coal accounts for over half of all electricity production in the U.S., and we have at least a 250-year supply of coal in the ground. New technologies allow for high-sulfur coal to be burned cleanly and efficiently, and this legislation will further reduce emissions, which is good for the environment. This is a win-win agreement that is good news for the country."
Science Committee Ranking Democrat Ralph M. Hall (D-TX) said, "I want to congratulate Mr. Costello on his effort to strengthen the clean coal research program. For the foreseeable future, the Nation will continue to rely on fossil fuels, and coal is an indispensable part of a realistic energy strategy. The program reforms pushed by Mr. Costello will lead to innovations that allow us to rely on coal to keep the lights burning while meeting our desire to sustain a healthy environment."
A key provision authored by Costello is intended to create university-based "United States Centers of Excellence for Energy Systems of the Future." The general goal is to enhance the role of university research centers in carrying on cutting-edge research in clean coal science and technology.