To Clean Up Coal, Obama Pushes More Oil Production
America's newest, most expensive coal-fired power plant is hailed as one of the cleanest on the planet, thanks to government-backed technology that removes carbon dioxide and keeps it out of the atmosphere.
But once the carbon is stripped away, it will be used to do something that is not so green at all.
It will extract oil.
When President Barack Obama first endorsed this "carbon-capture" technology, the idea was that it would fight global warming by sparing the atmosphere from more greenhouse gases. It makes coal plants cleaner by burying deep underground the carbon dioxide that typically is pumped out of smokestacks.
But that green vision proved too expensive and complicated. So the administration accepted a trade-off.
To help the environment, the government allows power companies to sell the carbon dioxide to oil companies, which pump it into old oil fields to force more crude to the surface. A side benefit is that the carbon gets permanently stuck underground.
The program shows the ingenuity of the oil industry, which is using government green-energy money to subsidize oil production. But it also showcases the environmental trade-offs Obama is willing to make, but rarely talks about, in his fight against global warming.
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