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Press Release - Edwards Calls For Cleaner Use Of Coal As Part Of Fight Against Global Warming

March 26, 2007

Calls For Ban On New Coal Plants Lacking Technology To Capture Carbon Dioxide Emissions

San Francisco, California – Following last week's announcement of his plan to halt global warming and create a new energy economy, Senator John Edwards today released the details of his plan to burn coal cleanly and store its carbon dioxide emissions safely. Edwards called for an end to the construction of any new coal-burning power plants that lack the technology needed to capture their carbon dioxide emissions.

"Global warming is not an issue for the future," said Edwards. "It is a crisis that demands action from us today. We have the chance to create an energy revolution in our country, but if we're going to have that happen, we have to be willing to take action now. We need to be smart and responsible about how we use coal, so we can leave our children and grandchildren a safer and cleaner planet."

While Edwards' energy plan calls for investing in renewable energy and efficiency, he understands that the U.S. is likely to rely on coal for its energy needs for decades or even centuries. Coal-fired power plants generate more than half of our electricity, but cause a third of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. Utility companies are planning to build more than 150 coal-fired power plants in the next 25 years.

Edwards believes we need to find a way to use coal without heating the planet. As president, Edwards will require that all new coal-fired plants be built with the required technology to capture their carbon dioxide emissions, so plants built today will be able to permanently and safely store their carbon emissions tomorrow. He also committed to investing $1 billion a year in research and testing to jumpstart the means to store large amounts of carbon dioxide safely underground.

In order to halt global warming, Edwards last week called for a dramatic reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Edwards' plan would cap greenhouse gas pollution starting in 2010, and reduce it by 15 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050, as the latest science says is needed to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. Edwards also proposed major investments in renewable energy and laid out ways to help Americans conserve energy.

For more information, please see the fact sheet below.


A New Strategy For Coal: Achieving Energy Independence & Stopping Global Warming

"The future is determined by the choices we make today. We can transform this economy, help American businesses lead the world, and take responsibility for protecting this earth. But if we don't seize the moment, it will be too late." -- John Edwards

Our generation must be the one that achieves energy independence. We need independence from unstable and hostile areas of the world, from global warming pollution, and from the old ways of business. With American ingenuity, we can emerge from the crisis of global warming with a new energy economy that stimulates innovation, brings the family farm back to life, and creates more than 1 million jobs in America's farms and industries.

Last week, John Edwards proposed an ambitious plan to cut global warming pollution by 80 percent by 2050, invest in renewable energy, and use energy efficiency to meet growth in the demand for electricity. Today, he announced his plan to burn coal cleanly and store its emissions safely.

Coal is a major source of power in the United States, where it generates half of electricity. The U.S. and the rest of the world is likely to rely on coal for its energy needs for decades or longer. As used today, however, coal-fired power plants cause a third of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions and result in a hotter planet. Moreover, power companies are planning to build more than 150 coal-fired power plants in the next 25 years, a step that could lock in large increases in carbon dioxide emissions. [NRDC, 2007; Time, 10/2/2007; News and Observer, 10/23/2006]

While making large investments in renewable energy and efficiency, Edwards believes that America must also change how it uses its coal. Today, he called for an end to the construction of any new coal-burning power plants that lack the technology needed to capture their carbon dioxide emissions. Second, Edwards will jumpstart the means to store large amounts of carbon dioxide safely underground by investing a historic $1 billion a year in research and testing. He will also strengthen mine safety laws to ensure that coal is safe at every stage of the production process.

Creating A New Generation Of Coal Plants That Burn Cleanly & Store Carbon Safely

Utilities are planning to build more than 150 coal-fired power plants in the next 25 years. These plants will last for 60 years. Most will use conventional coal combustion technology that results in substantial greenhouse gas pollution and is difficult to retrofit as technology advances. As a result, the plants could lock in a huge stream of carbon dioxide pollution over their lifetimes, as much as 1.1 billion tons a year by 2030. However, there are alternatives. Coal gasification, a precursor to carbon capture technology, is already operational in Tampa and Indiana. Two large power companies, TXU and American Electric Power, recently announced plans to build experimental plants that can capture carbon dioxide. Some companies, including oil companies, have experience pumping it underground. [News and Observer, 10/23/ 2006; NRDC, 2007; Nat'l Energy Tech. Library, 2007; NYT, 3/15/2007 and 3/17/2007; McFarland, Herzog, & Jacoby, 2007]

John Edwards has outlined an aggressive plan to use energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy to reduce American reliance on foreign oil and cut greenhouse gas pollution. However, because coal will play a major role in meeting U.S. and worldwide energy needs for decades to come, Edwards believes that the U.S. must take the lead in finding ways to use coal without warming the planet. He will:

  • Ban the Construction of Coal Plants that Cannot Capture Carbon: Edwards will require that all new coal-fired plants be built with technology needed to capture carbon dioxide emissions. Plants can use integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) technology or other effective approaches. As a result, the plants built today will be able to permanently and safely store their carbon emissions tomorrow. In addition, Edwards will explore ways to address the carbon dioxide emitted by current power plants.
  • Make a Historic Commitment to Safe Carbon Storage: Although the underground storage of carbon dioxide holds great promise, more research and experience is needed in large-scale projects. By investing $1 billion a year from his New Energy Economy Fund, Edwards will accelerate the technology's progress and reduce its cost. He will test at least three large-scale efforts to capture, transport, and store carbon dioxide. He will also provide clarity for businesses by setting rules for capturing, transporting and storing carbon dioxide.

An Ambitious Plan To Achieve Energy Independence & Halt Global Warming Through A New Energy Economy

Last week, John Edwards called for America to embrace three great goals for this generation:

  • Halting Global Warming: Without change, greenhouse gas pollution will soon create a completely different planet. Within decades, tens of millions could be flooded out of their homes and hundreds of millions could starve. [Hansen, 2/26/2007; AP, 3/11/2007]
    • Cap and Reduce Global Warming Pollution: Edwards will cap the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases at levels determined by climate science. Caps will begin in 2010 and reduce pollution by 15 percent by 2020 and by 80 percent by 2050. Some pollution permits will be sold, raising resources needed to invest in renewable energy and the new energy economy.
    • Lead the World to a New Climate Change Treaty: All countries must join the fight against climate change. Edwards will share clean energy technology with cooperating nations and, if necessary, require minimum climate-change commitments in our trade deals.
  • Creating the New Energy Economy and 1 Million New Jobs: Energy technology can create an economic boom across the nation, including clean tech investments in Silicon Valley, jobs in renewable energy in rural America, and a revitalized manufacturing base and "green-collar" jobs.
    • Create the New Energy Economy Fund: Edwards will create a $13-billion-a-year fund to invest in creating the new energy economy. To raise the money, he will charge greenhouse gas polluters for emission permits and repeal subsidies for big oil companies.
    • Invest in Renewable Energy: Renewable energy like wind, solar power, biomass and ethanol are cleaner and cheaper than traditional sources of energy. Edwards will require their use to generate 25 percent of electricity by 2025 and expand the use of ethanol in cars. He will invest more resources in researching and encouraging these clean forms of energy.
    • Transform the American Auto Industry: Edwards will cut oil imports by 7.5 million barrels a day by 2025 through greater fuel economy and the use of ethanol and hybrid cars. He will invest $1 billion a year in helping U.S. automakers advance and apply the latest technology.
    • Open the Electricity Grid to Competition: Thousands of smaller producers of electricity could spark innovation and create cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable power. Edwards will support local renewable power and require utilities to buy it from homes and entrepreneurs.
  • Meeting the Demand for Electricity with Efficiency for the Next Decade: America enjoys large opportunities to use power more efficiently, typically at half the cost of producing more power. However, most power companies today profit from selling more power, not by meeting customers' needs. Edwards will reform utility payments, as California has already done, to encourage them to use efficiency to meet growing demand for power. He will invest in more efficient appliances, homes, and workplaces, help families weatherize their homes, and use "smart thermostats" to help families monitor and reduce their energy.

John Edwards, Press Release - Edwards Calls For Cleaner Use Of Coal As Part Of Fight Against Global Warming Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/294022

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