House GOP Knocks Treasury Over Coal-Plant Funding Ban

The smoke stacks at American Electric Power's (AEP) Mountaineer coal power plant in New Haven, West Virginia, October 30, 2009. In cooperation with AEP, the French company Alstom unveiled the world's largest carbon capture facility at a coal plant, so called 'clean coal,' which will store around 100,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide a year 2,1 kilometers (7,200 feet) underground.
National Journal
Ben Geman
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Ben Geman
Dec. 13, 2013, 12:37 p.m.

Seni­or House Re­pub­lic­ans say a Treas­ury De­part­ment policy that re­stricts U.S. fin­an­cing for build­ing coal-fired power plants abroad will harm the poor.

A let­ter Fri­day from House En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee lead­ers to Treas­ury Sec­ret­ary Jac­ob Lew bashes ef­forts to largely end fund­ing for plants in de­vel­op­ing na­tions that do not em­ploy car­bon-emis­sions-trap­ping tech­no­logy.

Car­bon cap­ture and stor­age is “in­dis­put­ably not ready for wide­spread com­mer­cial de­ploy­ment. Re­quir­ing CCS would con­sti­tute a de facto ban on con­struc­tion of state-of-the-art new coal-fired power plants — pro­jects that some of the coun­tries in greatest need of re­li­able and af­ford­able elec­tri­city seek today,” the let­ter states.

En­ergy and Com­merce Chair­man Fred Up­ton, R-Mich., and Rep. Ed Whit­field, R-Ky., a top lieu­ten­ant on the pan­el, ask Lew to provide a list of power pro­jects in the de­vel­op­ing world that the policy may af­fect.

The let­ter also asks Lew wheth­er the re­stric­tions are at odds with “the long-stand­ing policy of the United States to as­sist de­vel­op­ing na­tions rise out of poverty.”

The re­stric­tions are part of the White House cli­mate plan rolled out in June. The policy carves out an ex­cep­tion for pro­jects in the world’s poorest na­tions — if no oth­er eco­nom­ic­ally feas­ible al­tern­at­ives ex­ist and if the plants use the most ef­fi­cient tech­no­logy avail­able.

The Treas­ury De­part­ment in Oc­to­ber an­nounced plans for seek­ing to lim­it coal-plant fin­an­cing through mul­ti­lat­er­al de­vel­op­ment banks. And the Ex­port-Im­port Bank of the United States ap­proved sep­ar­ate fin­an­cing lim­its Thursday.

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