To be cynically frank, the CCS plan has three big things going for it:
** First, after the stuff is pumped underground, it will be out of sight and out of mind, no one will know for sure where it is, and there will be no way to get it back. Problem solved. If it starts to leak out a few miles away from the injection site and the leakage is somehow miraculously discovered, chances are that nothing can be done about it, so we might as well forget the whole thing. It’s a done deal, so eat, drink, and be merry — just as we’ve been doing for the past 30 years.
** Second, with CCS as our “solution,” no one important has to change anything they’re now doing — the coal, oil, automobile, railroad, mining and electric power corporations can continue on their present path undisturbed — and no doubt they will reward Congress handsomely for being so “reasonable.” Everyone knows that’s how the system works. No one even bothers to deny it.
** Third, CCS cannot actually be tested; it will always require a leap of faith. Even though the goal is to keep CO2 buried in the ground forever, in human terms any test will have to end on some particular day in the not-too-distant future. On that day the test will be declared a “success” — but leakage could start the following day. So, given the goal of long-term storage, no short-term test can ever prove conclusive. CCS will always rest on a foundation of faith; and, in the absence of conclusive tests, those with the greatest persuasive powers ($$) have the upper hand.
Two weeks ago the Germans inaugurated the world’s first coal-fired power plant designed to bury its CO2 in the ground as an experiment. As New Scientist magazine told us last March, “In Germany, only CCS can make sense of an energy policy that combines a large number of new coal-fired power stations with plans for a 40 per cent cut in CO2 emissions by 2020.” In other words, the Germans hitched their wagon to a CCS solution long before they designed the first experiment to see if it could work. With the future of the German economy dependent on the outcome, it seems unlikely that this first little experiment will be announced as a failure. Like us, the Germans are playing Russian roulette with the future of the planet.