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CATF, Experts Release Roadmap to Slash Cost of Carbon Controls






John Thompson, 618. 203.6233,

Dave Lundy, 312.629.5245,






Cost Cuts of 50% Possible For Low-Carbon Coal Technologies


WASHINGTON, DC – September 15, 2009 –The Clean Air Task Force (CATF) today released its report “Coal Without Carbon”, detailing federal policy recommendations to lower the price of reducing carbon emissions from coal, a leading cause of climate change. Study authors include scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, as well as private power developers and experts from CATF.


The report comes as the U.S. Senate prepares to consider groundbreaking climate change legislation. Controlling the costs of the nation’s CO2 strategy is central to the debate.


“Congress must address coal in climate change legislation,” said John Thompson, CATF director of the coal transition project. “Coal accounts for 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions and worldwide coal use is expected to double in coming decades, even as we dramatically increase energy efficiency and non-fossil fuel energy use. There can be no answer to the global warming problem unless coal emissions are cut.”


The CATF study calls for a more innovative approach to federal policy to advance low carbon coal.  Recommendations include:


  • Rapid development and deployment of underground coal gasification (UCG) to reduce carbon emissions and electricity prices. UCG could reduce federal and state incentive costs by 50 percent or more from current cost estimates for coal gasification with carbon storage. Julio Friedmann, of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is the chapter author.


  • Expanded federal assistance for advanced, above-ground, coal gasification technologies to encourage commercialization, lowering coal carbon emissions by 90 percent or more and bringing down the nation’s costs of meeting carbon targets. Next-generation gasification technologies could lower coal’s carbon reduction costs by 40 percent. This section was written by Eric Redman and Kelly Fennerty of Summit Power Group, Inc. and Mike Fowler of the Clean Air Task Force.


  • Federal investment in post-combustion carbon controls to move breakthrough technologies from the lab to commercial plant scale.  This technology will be required to lower carbon emissions from the current global coal fleet. The report outlines development of such advanced post-combustion carbon capture technologies in an RD&D “pipeline”, with a focus on efficiency advantages for existing plants. Howard Herzog and Alan Hatton of MIT, and Jerry Meldon of Tufts University, are the chapter authors.


  • Increased federal investment to commercialize the storage of captured carbon dioxide deep below the Earth’s surface in brine formations. The topic is addressed by Friedmann and fellow Livermore scientist Robin Newmark.


  • A new multi-billion dollar public-private investment fund to develop a broader array of cheaper carbon reducing coal strategies than traditional funding allows.  Eric Redman and Kelly Fennerty of Summit Power address this issue.


“Half of America’s electricity comes from coal, and China has built enough new coal plants in just the last five years to rival the size of the entire US coal fleet. Realistically, coal will remain part of the world’s energy mix in at least the near term,” Thompson added.


“To prevent the catastrophic effects of climate change, Congress must include provisions to achieve dramatic reductions in coal’s carbon emissions, including federal research to drive carbon capture and storage costs down.”


About the Clean Air Task Force

The Clean Air Task Force is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing atmospheric pollution through research, advocacy, and private sector collaboration. CATF receives no industry or government funding.  For more information about the Clean Air Task Force’s coal transition project, visit