AEP / Coal / Coal Ash / Energy / Hydraulic Fracturing

Kasich’s energy plan: His gifts to coal-fired utilities

Diagram by Alan Morin for Clean Air Task Force

CLEVELAND – Gov. John Kasich’s energy plan is mostly a fracking plan, but he has rounded it out with some gifts to Ohio’s coal-fired utilities. The outline of his plan includes the following:

  • $30 million for coal research projects on carbon capture, sequestration, enhanced oil recovery, and new technologies
  • Streamlining and simplifying permit process for coal companies
  • Exempt coal combustion waste from additional fees and encourage solid waste landfill management

Carbon capture and sequestration: At this point, it is hard to see how $30 million is going to do much to advance this speculative technology. Last July, American Electric Power gave up on its carbon capture and sequestration pilot project at its Mountaineer Plant in New Haven, West Virginia, just across the Ohio River from Racine, Ohio, in Meigs County. When AEP walked away from the project, it had already absorbed $334 million from the U.S. Department of Energy.  With the state budget as tight as ever, Kasich needs to justify spending $30 million in Ohio taxpayer dollars on a technology that utilities and the federal government are abandoning.

Further, since fracking is his top priority, Gov. Kasich might want to check the March 16 issue of Scientific American for an article called, “Can Fracking and Carbon Sequestration Coexist? Drilling for natural gas and storing CO2 deep underground may be headed for a collision,” by Christa Marshall. The author reports on new research at Princeton University “finding that many of the same shale rock formations where companies want to extract gas also happen to sit above optimal sites envisioned for storing carbon dioxide underground that is captured from power plants and industrial facilities. The problem with this overlap, the researchers found, is that shale-gas extraction involves fracturing rock that could be needed as an impenetrable cover to hold CO2 underground permanently and prevent it from leaking back into the atmosphere.”

Streamlining permitting: Stay tuned. Without details yet from the Kasich Administration, there is no way to know what this means.

Coal ash: Ohio’s coal plants produce 10,429 tons of coal ash a year, ranking third highest in the nation. This waste contains arsenic, lead, hexavalent chromium, cadmium, mercury, and other cancer-causing and neurotoxic chemicals. The cancer risk for exposure to coal ash is nine times worse than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Despite this, Ohio already excludes all coal ash from regulation by classifying it as “nontoxic.” Kasich’s plan would “encourage solid waste landfill management” of coal waste, as though it were as safe as a milk carton, sending it straight to the local landfill.

— Paul Ryder, Assistant Director, Ohio Citizen Action

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