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Argument: Capturing/transporting/storing billions of tons of CO2 is not feasible

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Vaclav Smil, PhD, Distinguished Professor in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Manitoba, stated the following in his May 2006 statement "Energy at the Crossroads," during the Conference on Scientific Challenges for Energy Research in Paris, available at www.home.cc.umanitoba.ca: "In 2005 worldwide CO2 emissions amounted to nearly 28 Gt [gigatons]... Sequestering a mere 1/10 of today's global CO2 emissions (< 3 Gt CO2) would thus call for putting in place an industry that would have to force underground every year a volume of compressed gas larger than or (with higher compression) equal to the volume of crude oil extracted globally by petroleum industry whose infrastructures and capacities have been put in place over a century of development. Needless to say, such a technical feat could not be accomplished within a single generation."


Rainforest Action Network, an environmental non-profit organization, stated the following in a fact sheet on its website titled "The Dirty Truth about Clean Coal," available at www.ran.org (accessed Sep. 17, 2009): "Proposals for carbon storage locations include underground depleted oil and gas fields, unmineable coal seams, and even in our oceans. Underground storage of the 1.9 billion tons of C02 waste produced annually by U.S. coal plants is hugely problematic and likely impossible."


Robert Bryce. "A bad bet on carbon." New York Times. May 12, 2010: "The third, and most vexing, problem has to do with scale. In 2009, carbon dioxide emissions in the United States totaled 5.4 billion tons. Let’s assume that policymakers want to use carbon capture to get rid of half of those emissions — say, 3 billion tons per year. That works out to about 8.2 million tons of carbon dioxide per day, which would have to be collected and compressed to about 1,000 pounds per square inch (that compressed volume of carbon dioxide would be roughly equivalent to the volume of daily global oil production).

In other words, we would need to find an underground location (or locations) able to swallow a volume equal to the contents of 41 oil supertankers each day, 365 days a year.

There will also be considerable public resistance to carbon dioxide pipelines and sequestration projects — local outcry has already stalled proposed carbon capture projects in Germany and Denmark. The fact is, few landowners are eager to have pipelines built across their property. And because of the possibility of deadly leaks, few people will to want to live near a pipeline or an underground storage cavern. This leads to the obvious question: which members of the House and Senate are going to volunteer their states to be dumping grounds for all that carbon dioxide?"

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