Sunday, July 3, 2016

All Things For All People

Montana's Governor Steve Bullock has put together a document titled Montana Energy Future. Designed primarily to ensure his re-election this fall, it promises all things to everybody, all win, no lose. When it says: "valuing our traditions" it means maintaining fossil fuel energy development with its historical boom/bust cycle. We have actually come to embrace it as something sacred, like chicken fried steak or Bud light. His main idea is to follow the bullshit blueprint of his predecessor (also a Democrat) and push "clean coal" in the form of carbon capture and sequestration. While waiting for this technology to become real, he has joined the lawsuit against the Federal Clean Power Plan.

Bullock assures us clean coal is on the horizon because he toured a facility in Saskatchewan that separates the sulfur and CO2 from coal plant emissions and sells both byproducts to pay for the expensive retrofit. This is how it works on paper. In reality it has been a series of delays and breakdowns and lawsuits over design and cost over-runs. Which I might be fine with because remember, I don't believe "cost" is real when it comes to climate chaos. The problem, the real problem, is this: they sell the CO2 to fracking companies so they can extract more oil, a process known as "enhanced oil recovery". More oil means more combustion which means more greenhouse gas. So that's a no go.

But say you didn't need the money, say you just wanted to capture the CO2 and then sequester it deep within the bowels of the earth. Are we sure this is safe? No unintended consequences? Because we have already committed to lots of expense( price of electricity, diverted investment) and lots of risk just to have this base-load energy and these jobs that go with it. What if 20 million tons of CO2 escaped at once? That would be a major fuck-o-dear.

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