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Carbon dioxide [CO2] emissions from power plants contribute significantly to global warming. For that reason, the United States is making a concerted effort to develop advanced technologies that can capture carbon dioxide at existing American power plants so that the greenhouse gas may be sequestered or put to beneficial use.
As part of that effort, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has announced nearly a total of $3.4 billion in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for carbon capture and storage related technologies. This funding will focus on research, development and deployment of technologies to use coal more cleanly and efficiently. Investments will go toward finding and testing new ways to produce energy from coal – such as gasification – and improving techniques to clean or capture and store the emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Coal is one of America's most abundant energy resources – supplying nearly 50 percent of domestic electricity. This past week, Secretary Chu sent a letter to world energy ministers and other scientific leaders calling for an aggressive global effort to advance carbon capture and sequestration technology to the point where widespread, affordable deployment can begin in 8 to 10 years.
Since the passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970, coal-fired power plants in the U.S. have made significant progress in reducing emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, and recently mercury.
Coal will continue to play a critical role in powering America's electricity generation in the foreseeable future. That is why the U.S. is investing in carbon capture and storage technologies and urges other nations to do the same.