SADOW: Fed Carbon Capture Welfare Cash No Balm For LA’s Economic Woes

Climate alarmists have become so panicky that they’ve started to sabotage their own efforts in Louisiana – and if they were intellectually honest, they would have started a lot earlier to more extensively apply the brakes to the extremely high cost, low return, government-directed move away from fossil fuel usage

Their house organ Louisiana Illuminator recently ran a piece about the drawbacks of carbon capture and sequestration, at least in terms of its use of other resources, specifically water used by utilities. It points out the huge volume necessary that would severely strain, if not overwhelm, available water sources across the state in a quest to suck out carbon from energy producers largely using fossil fuels.

Naturally enough, the article doesn’t delve into the cost issue, which would be catastrophically high: CCS technology in a standalone air capture situation such as described costs up to $120 a ton, many times the cost of producing the electricity. This then, if the entire state Public Service Commission followed the lead of its more scientifically-ignorant members, ordinarily would come out of ratepayers’ pockets.

That hasn’t stopped catastrophic anthropogenic global warming believer Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards from excitedly shilling such projects, yet he also points out another cost his ilk doesn’t discuss: storage costs, which in this situation requiring transport to storage capacity costing another $20 or so per ton – if available. That’s a difficulty another recently-introduced Louisiana hopeful large scale CCS user has run into: Air Products, which announced last year it would manufacture hydrogen, with CCS attached.

However, it can’t do this on site, so it has petitioned from its proposed Ascension Parish location to inject siphoned by-product below Lake Maurepas in Livingston Parish. Which has policy-makers there up in arms, as this would require drilling through aquifers that could threaten water capacity just like overuse from the CCS process does. St. Helena Parish is considering a similar moratorium.

This illuminates another intractable shortcoming of this type of scheming besides cost: the politics of who decides local land use. Renewable energy projects often require extensive land use and infrastructure siting spanning many jurisdictions, and alarmists commonly complain – with their preferred solution of allowing a federal government takeover of state and local government powers in this policy area – that governments below the national level use their powers too often to obstruct creation of the required renewable energy infrastructure.

So, alarmists avoid discussing the ramifications of cost and tractability in pitching these ideas, along with neglecting a third: how truly ineffective are their preferred solutions. For example, with the Air Products deal, the kind of hydrogen it will make is “blue,” which is much less expensive than “green” hydrogen. But “blue” hydrogen also creates as much carbon by-product as just burning the fossil fuel inputs. Unless there’s carbon capture in place throughout the manufacture and use, it does little to satisfy the urges of CAGW adherents to get rid of carbon. And, stop me if you’ve heard this already, intensifying the process to make “green” hydrogen with little emitted carbon… is prohibitively expensive.

Leaving still a fourth aspect to all this that alarmists prefer not to discuss: the physical impossibility of collecting enough resources, raw and land, for building out renewable energy (plus storage because of its typically episodic/non-dispatchable nature) to meet their absurdly-high goals of dramatic carbon emissions cuts, especially in the next few years. Simply, the amount of land required, the extent of infrastructure needing construction, and availability of key elements such as lithium won’t come close to adequacy. This is why CCS, despite its enormous drawbacks, is even in the conversation.

It shouldn’t be. And if it wasn’t, that would prevent the enormous waste of taxpayer dollars – accelerated by the infrastructure spending bill passed by the federal government controlled by Democrats this summer that allocated a good portion of its $369 billion in environmental spending to boosting federal CCS tax credits costing federal tax filers hundreds of dollars each over the next dozen years – already flooding into this economically-unviable, pointless venture. Of course, alarmists allege it’s worth every penny despite the havoc it will wreak, especially to lower-income households, because Climate Emergency!

If they were truthful, the climate nuts would acknowledge all of this. In reality, their cosmology won’t permit them to do so. Thus, they enter into a conflicted state where CCS makes some progress towards fewer emissions beyond what little a renewable rollout can do, but at the price of propping up the fossil fuel industry, their sworn enemy they claim perpetuates conditions that will bring disaster.

Especially galling to them is the enormous federal subsidization of the CCS effort, which otherwise they feel could have gone to subsidizing the equally ruinous costs behind greater wind, solar, and especially battery provision. Which is precisely why the fossil fuel industry loves the idea to boost its bottom line and make it out to be doing something to counteract the Climate Emergency! – as long as it can grift the public enough to make money off the scheme.

Regardless, taxpayers lose. If market forces create more renewable energy and CCS, it’s only because society is better off for it. Instead, unscientific hysteria drives the process. Let’s hope on this issue Louisiana policy-makers are made of sterner stuff than Edwards when they make their decisions about resource use, utility rates, tax treatment, and appropriations.

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