National Emissions Cap Needed to Drive CCS Technology – GAO Report

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released today says climate-fighting carbon sequestration technologies won’t significantly advance until a national strategy to regulate carbon emissions and interagency cooperation measures are established. The report shines a light on the lack of leadership from the Bush administration on global warming and climate-friendly technologies.

"If carbon sequestration technologies are going to get off–and into–the ground, we must have national limits on global warming pollution and an administration dedicated to promoting climate-friendly technologies," said Chairman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, who requested the study. "Solving coal’s climate conundrum is as vital as any challenge we face in battling global warming, and half-measures just won’t cut it."

The report says a lack of a national strategy to control heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions has hamstrung efforts to expand CCS technologies, saying it leaves the power sector with "little incentive to reduce their emissions . . . [and] little reason to devise the practical arrangements necessary to implement the reductions."

It also points to a lack of coordination among agencies involved in developing and regulating CCS infrastructure in the United States, for example with pipeline transportation of carbon dioxide emissions. A national CCS program "would require an elaborate network of interstate CO2 pipelines" that would involve many agencies and jurisdictional issues, the report notes. To date, however, "no federal agency has claimed jurisdiction over siting, rates, or terms of service" for the pipelines, according to the GAO.

In addition, the report finds that a lack of clear liability and ownership rules for underground carbon dioxide injection is an obstacle to expansion of CCS technologies, but that the administration has provided little or no leadership in developing such rules.

"The Bush administration can’t hang their hat on this technology when they haven’t even created the hat rack," said Chairman Markey. "If the Bush administration were running the water department like they run their carbon sequestration programs, we’d all have sinks and no water pipes."

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