President Joe Biden’s goal is that by 2035 all American electricity will come from zero carbon sources. To get there, they are relying on Congress to approve an ambitious package of incentives and penalties designed to encourage the utility to clean up power sources. The plan, part of the Democrats’ proposed budget package, could run into difficulties.
Sen Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat. Close relationship To coal, Oil and gas industries And concerns about Reduction of Biden’s planned emissions.The Senate will oversee this part of the budget as chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Manchin insists on using “All energy sources“Clean as much as possible” and the idea of eliminating fossil fuels.Very, very annoying. “They Allegedly wants to reduce. Proposed utility incentives and penalties, known as clean electricity payment programs, and for rewarding companies. Burning natural gas.
We asked Michael Openheimer., Director of the Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment at Princeton University, about the potential effects of management achieving its goals and alternatives.
1. Natural gas is often referred to as bridge fuel, which can facilitate the transition from highly polluted coal-fired power plants to clean energy such as solar and wind. Could it still play that role, as Sean Manchin suggests?
My position on natural gas has changed over the years. For decades, I and many others have thought that natural gas would be the fuel of the bridge. It emitted about half of the carbon dioxide from coal It has become very cheap As Hydraulic fracture extension To make the United States the largest producer of gas. The utility started on its own. Away from coal, And the Obama administration’s expectation of greenhouse gas regulations pushed them faster.
But there is the problem of natural gas. Its drilling operations, transmission pipelines and distribution systems are sufficient in cities – every part of this system. More leaks The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that natural gas consists primarily of methane, a greenhouse gas. Many times more powerful A molecule compared to carbon dioxide, although it does not stay in the atmosphere for long.
Now we also know that the world is very close to entering the climate zone. IPCC latest report Presents scientific evidence In the strongest terms how human activities, especially the burning of oil, gas and coal, are indiscriminately warming the planet causing rapid changes in temperature, rain, ice and sea level and extreme weather. Are happening.
One of the fastest things a country can do to slow down the effects of its climate. Eliminate methane For emissions of carbon dioxide, gas stays in the atmosphere for only 12 years, compared to centuries or more. Yet with minimal leakage, natural gas combustion still produces carbon dioxide. If you’re looking to plan for the future of American energy, you don’t want to be discouraged by new fossil fuel infrastructure and research. It can’t be a bridge long enough to justify investment – the climate can’t stand it.
Unfortunately not. We already are At least 1.5 degrees Celsius Summer, where the Paris Agreement threat zone begins, and we expect. Significantly more damage at 2 degrees. Every increase in heat causes more damage.
Climate models show extreme events, e.g. Heat wave And the flood The United States saw this summer, already around 1.5 degrees are more common, and they. Just bad after this. It will be difficult to protect yourself from more than 1.5 degrees and more than 2 degrees. Expenses are already prohibited for many communities.
For example, sea levels are rising so fast that by 2050 the world is heading for a 2 degree warming. Many coastal places in the worldEvery year, including the United States, they will face water levels equal to or greater than their 100-year historic flood event. Eventually, in some areas, the daily high tide will bring flooding to the level of this high water mark.
I’ve been working on these issues since 1981, and that’s what many industry officials and politicians have been saying over and over again – what’s the hurry? Let’s wait another year to slow down the action or stop it indefinitely. There was always some argument. That is why we are currently experiencing one climate disaster after another.
After the world delays, costs go up.
3. The fossil fuel industry will benefit from billions of dollars in aid through a carbon capture and storage infrastructure bill that could allow power plants, refineries and factories to continue producing greenhouse gases. Sen Manchin supports this technology., But can it meet US goals?
The industry used to describe carbon capture and storage as a silver bullet 20 years ago, yet today it is just about that. Two dozen are operating on a commercial scale around the world.. In the United States, most are included. Ethanol Or fertilizer production or natural gas processing plants, and almost all of them send the captured carbon dioxide for use in better oil recovery, a technique to force more oil to be extracted from wells. In two attempts to build large power plants with carbon capture. Illinois And Mississippi, Echoed in the early 2000s but ultimately failed, costing billions of dollars.
There was technology. Also Expensive And again, these would mean that you have to spend for these processes. Our government has never found plans to demonstrate large-scale carbon capture and storage to remove bugs and reduce costs.
The next question is what are you going to do with all this carbon dioxide? There will be local and environmental justice concerns about pipelines and burials. Although I know that power lines cause opposition, why not just try to improve the power transmission and storage system? Smart grid for renewable energyIf carbon dioxide needs to be captured directly from the air, preserve carbon capture by the end of the century.
The federal budget is not a final game. This is just one step. Because Democrats in Congress intend to use. The process of reconciliation To pass this law, this bill must be about financial incentives and fines. In addition, there is still room for the EPA to adopt new and stronger greenhouse gas emissions regulations.
While they can be abolished by future presidents, as we have seen. During the Trump administration, The people and the Congress are now. Began to understand The Cost of Unlimited Climate Change It’s hard to ignore the wildfires that are forcing you out of your home or the storms that flood your streets.
This means that it will be difficult for the next president to repeal all the laws as the Trump administration tried to do. I am sure that the importance of a stable regulatory system will soon become clear.
My colleagues at Princeton published a report last winter. Five Ways to Get America to Net Zero Emissions. He focused on a few pillars, focusing on energy efficiency, electrification, renewable energy, biofuels, nuclear energy and carbon capture. In my view, the first three are promising, the last three disturbing.
Rapid migration remains viable – but it is larger than the $ 3.5 trillion that is now proposed to tackle climate change. This will require a federal mandate, concessions and dislikes to shift many private investments away from fossil fuels and to renewable sources. Mostly, it will require political will and determination – things that lack all the resources.