To reduce impacts of climate change, the United States must limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants now. To do this at a price we can afford will require all the tools that we've got -- improved energy efficiency, use of more renewable and nuclear power, and electricity from coal and gas plants that capture CO2 and store it nearly a mile underground (CCS).
Penn State nuclear engineer Edward H. Klevans has his facts wrong when it comes to CCS ("Should We Bury Carbon Dioxide? Or Bury the Idea?" Nov. 15 Forum). Because CO2 will be trapped in tiny spaces within the rock, it cannot suddenly all leak out as Professor Klevans implies. If some CO2 did leak, it couldn't "trigger explosions"-- in fact, CO2 is used in fire extinguishers. A large CO2 leak could cause people to suffocate, but this is unlikely.
Furthermore, Professor Klevans incorrectly writes that CCS "has never been demonstrated at industrial scale." Three industrial-scale CCS projects are safely operating in the world today. CO2 is also safely injected into more than 100 U.S. oil fields to increase oil production, which is very similar to carbon storage. And finally, he complains that CCS will be too expensive. He fails to mention, though, that estimated costs for new nuclear power plants and coal plants with CCS are similar.
The United States needs an honest and open debate on how it will reduce emissions of CO2. Spreading misinformation about any energy technology to promote another should have no place in this debate.
SEAN McCOY, Ph.D.
Department of Engineering and Public Policy
Carnegie Mellon University