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US needs to be a leader in carbon capture, say congressional advocates

Congressionalsupporters of carbon capture and storage said that the U.S. needs to do more todevelop the technology to address worldwide carbon emissions at a Capitol Hillevent Sept. 29, suggesting that other countries could not be relied on to"step up to the plate."

"Do you think they care what's coming out of the [coalplant smokestack]?" Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., asked about India at anevent hosted by U.S. Department of Energy and the Coal Utilization ResearchCouncil called "Showcasing Advancements in CCUS Technology" inWashington, D.C.

"We don't control coal generation in the world,"added Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., at the event. She said that countries indesperate need of energy development will not be as concerned with clean coalor fixing climate change, and that the U.S. needs to be a leader in improvingthese technologies around the world.

Manchin and Heitkamp have both for CCS support throughlegislation in the last year, pushing back against concerns from critics whohave questioned the technology's cost and applicability.

Joined by others in Congress, the senators have pushed forCCS as a means of reducing global carbon emissions at home and abroad.

Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., said that the U.S. is alreadya small player in terms of overall carbon emissions. "If we didn't burnone ton in America, we would reduce the global CO2 emissions by two tenths of1%," he said, adding that he believes that the world is not following theU.S. in terms of slowing down their fossil fuel consumption.

"The rest of the world will not step up to theplate," Manchin said on the subject.

McKinley called for a national energy policy that focusesmore on developing feasible technology.

"We need a national energy policy in this country.Currently what we have is a policy that changes every four years,"McKinley said, adding that the Obama administration's actions against coal ingeneral have hobbled possible technology developments in carbon capture andclean plants. "This president has been ignoring the marketplace. He haswaged a relentless war on coal and recently on natural gas."

For McKinley, CCS provided a viable way forward for thecontinued use of fossil fuels.

Heitkamp said that carbon capture advocates are doing abetter job in raising awareness about the need for this technology.

"We've gotten better at telling the story of thesetechnologies and what they mean," she said, but there are still challengeswith getting the attention of public policy.

"We must not only understand this from a physicsstandpoint, a chemical standpoint, we must also understand how to embed thesetechnologies in public policy," she said.

Deck Slone, senior vice president of strategy and policy atArch Coal Inc., saidat the event it was a great time for the discussion on carbon capture.

"Not only are these technologies possible, they areabsolutely essential," he said. "There's a real consensus that evenin 2050, the world will still be highly reliant on fossil fuels."

Manchin and other speakers at the event agreed that coalwould continue to play a major role in energy generation in the U.S. andglobally for decades to come regardless of the way policy shifted in the U.S.

"For Donald Trump to say coal is coming back, that'sjust B.S.," Manchin said. "And for the people that say Hillary isgoing to kill coal, that's just more B.S."