Carbon Capture and Storage: Seven Unanswered Questions

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Article | 99 KY. L. J. ONLINE 2 | Oct. 14, 2011

by David S. Samford

The current level of uncertainty relating to the generation of electricity calls to mind the early struggles between Westinghouse’s alternating current and Thomas Edison’s direct current for industry dominance and the tumultuous conflict between Samuel Insull and the Roosevelt Administration over the 1935 passage of the Public Utility Holding Company Act. Not since the Three Mile Island incident has such a pall hung over as large a segment of the utility industry. Without question, the dominant energy policy question in Washington today is whether a price will be attached to the emission of carbon dioxide (“CO2”). While the policy considerations inherent in that question apply with equal force to both automobile tailpipes and industrial smokestacks, the power industry has been singled out for the greatest regulatory scrutiny. If a price is affixed to carbon emissions, the electric utility industry will be forced to adapt. A leading assumption is that electric utilities operating in a carbon constrained environment will either abandon the use of coal as a primary fuel in electricity generation or engage in a process known as carbon capture and storage (“CCS”), in which carbon emissions are captured as part of the electricity generation process, transported through a pipeline, and subsequently injected and stored within the voids (“pore space”) of large underground geologic formations. The prospect of CCS as a means to continue the widespread combustion of coal in an electric generation process raises a host of technical, financial, and legal issues. These issues have been the subject of frequent discussion both in Washington and in Frankfort for several years. As of yet, however, no prevailing consensus has emerged in either capital as to how CCS should be implemented in the event that CO2 emissions are regulated.

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Carbon Capture and Storage: Seven Unanswered Questions


David S. Samford, Carbon Capture and Storage—Seven Unanswered Questions, 99 Ky. L.J. Online 23 (2011),

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