- - Monday, March 5, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

One of the most remarkable consequences of President Trump’s making America great again has been the revolution in energy policy under The Donald.

Gone are the days of claiming “climate change” is the No. 1 threat facing the United States from a national security standpoint. Gone is the requirement to send trillions of dollars to adversarial nations that want to do us harm and destroy our way of life to pay for oil and gas.

Mr. Trump has recognized America has a thousand years of energy under its feet and has spoken the words which forces the Left to cover their ears in horror: Drill baby drill. In Mr. Trump’s mind, and rightfully so, energy independence is a national security priority. Threat Assessment feels the same way and will continue to add to the discussion in this critical area for our country’s future.

The most refreshing change has been Mr. Trump’s embrace of clean coal and associated technologies, to the delight of coal miners in West Virginia and elsewhere. If the Middle East has oil, America has coal — a lot of it. According to the Energy Information Agency, as of Jan. 1, 2017, the U.S. had 476 billion short tons of coal, or roughly a quarter of the world’s proven coal reserves.

But it’s not just coal. It’s the revolutionary technology that goes along with the coal. And the budget bill signed earlier this month promises to create new impetus for investing in carbon capture technology. The bill will provide a tax credit of $50 for every metric ton of carbon dioxide buried underground and $35 for every ton used for other purposes – enough to offset about half of the carbon produced by power generation plants, and most likely all of the gas produced by certain industrial processes. Companies have up to a dozen years to take advantage of the new financial incentives.

Carbon capture provides the Trump administration the ability to achieve two of its stated policy goals at the same time. While enabling the resurgence of American coal to support energy independence, the development of such technologies also ensures Washington will lead the world in both the adoption and promotion of clean coal.

The tax credits provided under the budget bill provide an ideal financial incentive for the private sector to achieve this leadership. “With no cap on the available tax credits and 12 years to claim them, [Section] 45Q is poised to do for carbon capture what similar incentives did for wind and solar power: unleash private sector investments that catapult the technology into its maturity,” quotes Forbes in a recent article on the subject. “Financial instruments have always been an essential part of getting any new clean technology deployed and this is the kind of incentive that is needed,” added Forbes from an industry source.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is keen to do exactly that with its Office of Fossil Energy selecting seven projects to receive approximately $44 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development through the funding opportunity announcement, Design and Testing of Advanced Carbon Capture Technologies. “These projects will advance competitive operation of our nation’s fossil-based power-generation infrastructure by reducing energy consumption and capital costs associated with next-generation carbon capture systems,” writes DOE in an announcement on its website.

The Trump administration is also driving the development of carbon capture technology for use outside the United States as well. This was the impetus behind the White House’s push for the clean coal alliance at the climate summit last November. “U.S. government officials said Washington will push for a change to World Bank rules blocking funding for coal-related projects, while seeking to build “a clean-coal alliance” of like-minded nations across six continents,” wrote The Washington Times. Coal is very inexpensive for developing nations for use in energy generation. Depriving them through international entities, such as the World Bank which has previously restricted financing in this area, of the ability to burn coal destroys economic growth where it is badly needed.

A clean-coal alliance would share the “best and newest American tech to make sure coal anywhere in the world is burned as cleanly as possible,” said George David Banks, the chief U.S. representative to the 23rd Conference of Parties of the Paris accord on climate change.

American coal exports are also in demand in Eastern Europe, where they help to reduce reliance on Russian hydrocarbons. Even if Western European leadership doesn’t want to admit it, Trump’s energy policy can play a big role in ensuring the security of European countries as well.

The policy of using carbon capture tax credits to spur technological advancement in the private sector for burning clean coal will stimulate the market and help scale up the effort to achieve the end goal of Trump energy policy — not just energy independence, but energy dominance, all the while adding to the Trump economic boom.


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