Monday, November 27, 2006

Energy CEOs expecting carbon regulation

On the eve of a Democratic takeover of Congress and a Supreme Court case that could force the federal government to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant, energy company CEOs are speaking out more loudly and clearly for carbon regulation to slow global warming.

A patchwork of state regulations is not efficient, many say, and the federal government needs to make consistent regulations.

Shell President John Hofmeister and Duke Energy CEO James E. Rogers are among the most vocal, calling for companies to prepare for the inevitable regulation of carbon. What that regulation will look like, however, is still left to debate. I blogged last week about Xcel Energy CEO Dick Kelly promoting tax credits for utilities that develop renewable energy, and both Hofmeister and Rogers support a plan to cap carbon pollution and allow companies to trade their quotas. Duke Energy Chairman Paul M. Anderson backs a tax on carbon.

But Duke and Shell aren't ready to dump coal yet. Duke has several coal-fired plants on the horizon, including a pair of controversial plants in North Carolina. In a September address to the World Affairs Council of Orange County (CA), Shell's Hofmeister continued to promote Shell's plans for an Australian coal plant that would be 99.8% CO2 free.

Both companies tout carbon capture and sequestration, which is difficult and expensive, especially if the coal has to be carted hundreds of miles to a geologically suited storage place. Check out this detailed Treehugger post for a discussion of why renewables are much more economical and clean and ready right now, compared with carbon capture and storage.

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