StateImpact PA has posted this article asking that question.
I'm quoted in the article, discussing what I believe is the essential path for coal - and natural gas - to have a future in our energy mix if we are to avoid disastrous climate disruption. That path is to deploy carbon capture and storage (CCS) in carbon management networks.
CCS technology is available and working today. But there are huge hurdles to be overcome in deploying it at commercial, planet-saving scale. CCS is expensive to build and to operate. It reduces electricity output from plants that would use it. It requires massive storage capacity - capacity that is available, but which can be difficult to assemble. For those reasons, and others, CCS has been painfully slow to develop.
Under Governor Edward G. Rendell's leadership, Pennsylvania's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) - partnering with the Clinton Climate Initiative - did some of the most advanced work in the nation, and indeed the world, on CCS. I was privileged to lead that work. We proposed the world's first carbon management network - multiple emitters connected to a shared pipeline and a centralized storage facility. The Pennsylvania network was estimated to have the ability at its inception to capture ten percent of the state's carbon emissions (PA is the #3 CO2 emitting state and emits 1% of the planet's CO2 emissions). The network at full operation would have been able to cut the state's emissions by a third.
By taking advantage of economies of scale and sharing infrastructure, the Clinton Climate Initiative estimated that the costs of a Pennsylvania carbon management network would be significantly lower than any CCS project in operation or proposed at the time - anywhere in the world. The economics could have been further improved by selling some of the captued CO2 for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and enhanced gas recovery. DCNR's work found that both are possible in Pennsylvania, and the opportunities for EOR especially are huge in many parts of the country.
Here are links to the reports prepared by DCNR:
How will EPA’s new carbon limits impact coal in Pennsylvania, and elsewhere? The answer to that question depends on whether, how, and when CCS technology can achieve commercial scale. Other nations pursuing CCS are embracing the model that was developed in Pennsylvania four years ago. The roadmap has already been drawn.
Will it be followed?