Illinois Mulls Building Greenhouse Gas Pipeline
NEW YORK The governor of Illinois is mulling whether the state should help build a pipeline to combat global warming by carrying greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from planned clean coal plants to aging oilfields.
Greenhouse gas carbon dioxide can be captured at power plants and then pumped through the proposed pipeline to be entombed deep underground. The carbon-capturing technology can be added to plants that gasify coal, which a handful of utilities are planning to build, or those that run on natural gas.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich's energy plan, released earlier this year, calls for 10 coal gasification plants over the next 10 years. Blagojevich is also trying to measure corporate interest in building a network of CO2 pipelines with the state.
"Constructing a carbon dioxide pipeline is a big part of our plan because it will allow us to build coal gasification plants and use the CO2 they emit to extract more oil without contributing to global warming," Blagojevich, a Democrat who was up for reelection on Tuesday, said in a statement on Monday.
U.S. energy companies have been pumping small amounts of CO2 from natural deposits into depleted oil and natural gas fields to boost fuel output since the 1970s. That is about as long as oil production has been declining in the world's largest energy consumer.
The Department of Energy said last spring that injecting carbon dioxide from power plants could quadruple U.S. oil reserves.
Blagojevich said pumping CO2 into aging Illinois oilfields could nearly double the amount of oil produced in the state annually. It could also be used to push out methane from coal beds to provide about seven years worth of natural gas for the state, he said.
Experts say the extra expenses of carbon capture, transport and burial could add as much as a fifth to household energy bills. Some of that cost could be eased through trading of carbon credits.
Blagojevich also said Illinois was joining the Chicago Climate Exchange, a voluntary exchange in which active members are legally bound to cut emissions or buy credits representing them.
If CO2 becomes a regulated commodity in the United States, something President George W. Bush has fought, surplus quantities could also be injected into underground saline formations, the governor said.