Stephanie Thomas: Carbon Capture is a Fool’s Choice
Houston Chronicle op-ed
By Stephanie Thomas
This op-ed was first published in the Houston Chronicle on July 1, 2021.
Carbon capture supporters who also want to continue extracting fossil fuels think they can have their cake and eat it, too.
The idea sounds appealing. Companies could continue to extract fossil fuels and the carbon generated from burning them could be stored underground. Some companies see the generation of hydrogen fuel from fossil sources combined with carbon capture as an alternative to gasoline for transportation and other energy needs. Investing billions in such plans, however, will only lock us onto the perilous path of climate disasters.
If we think about our atmosphere like a bathtub, carbon pollution has filled it up. The bathtub is now overflowing. We need to fast track emissions reductions and turn off the still-flowing faucet. Carbon capture plans try to scoop out water from the overflowing tub without shutting off the faucet. And there is no guarantee that it can even do that. Carbon capture is an expensive, energy-intensive and unproven technology. Petra Nova, a project that was meant to demonstrate the feasibility of carbon capture at NRG’s W.A. Parish coal plant, instead demonstrated the opposite when it was closed last year.