Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Environmentalists differ on carbon-capture efforts

This is a story about a town within shouting distance of New York City, but it has a rural angle. I writing about the battle over the proposed PurGen carbon capture and storage power plant in Linden, N. J., Peter Applebome, columnist for The New York Times, has touched on an important dilemma facing environmentalists. "Some of the biggest hurdles to dealing with global warming could be the tactics environmentalists have perfected over the years to stop projects — toxic and sometimes not so toxic — they didn’t like," Applebome writes.

Bradley Campbell, a former commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, explains: "One of the difficult challenges that climate change presents is that environmental groups are very good at opposing projects, and not very good at making compromises in supporting projects. We need to get beyond the mind-set that there’s a perfect alternative if we ever hope to avoid the worst impacts of climate change."

The environmentalist blitz against the New Jersey CCS plant is in full stride, citing the possible dangers of the still mostly unknown process, uncertain technology and reinforcement of the U.S. dependence on coal. Applebome points out a growing schism between environmentalists' distaste for coal and acknowledgement that climate-change solutions will need more than wind, solar and energy savings.

He cites environmental concerns raised recently about wind and solar projects that are seen as alternatives to coal and concludes, "Maybe on closer review, PurGen will look like a dangerous dead end or a promising way out," he writes. "Maybe T. Boone Pickens will find a way to put a million wind turbines all over the Texas Panhandle and provide all the energy we want. Maybe combating climate change feels like being on a 40-ton truck barreling downhill with no brakes." (Read more)

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