The Implications of Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS)

In my previous post I pointed out the coming sea-change that will be impacting the utility sector of the U.S. economy, based on the Obama Administration’s steps to curtail greenhouse gas emissions. The President has also pledged an “all of the above” approach to solving America’s energy needs.

An often-overlooked technology that is part of the “all of the above” approach is carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). This developing technology would capture large amounts of CO2 emissions – the principal source of which in the U.S. is coal-fired power plants – and inject those emissions into underground rock formations.

Perhaps not coincidentally, following on the heels of President Obama’s announced administrative restrictions on existing coal-fired power plant emissions comes the release of a U.S. Geological Survey on the availability of rock formations in the U.S. that could be used for CCS. In a copyrighted story in the Washington Times (, Ben Wolfgang reports that as much as 3,000 metric gigatons of carbon dioxide could be stored underground in rock formations and that such large-scale storage would greatly reduce — or perhaps eliminate entirely — harmful carbon emissions from coal plants.

The implications of both the President’s desire to see his legacy be defined by steps taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the USGS findings are profound and far-reaching. At a minimum, these two developments in the past week will no doubt raise the profile of CCS in the debate over America’s energy future. Whether CCS plays a viable role in that future remains to be seen. Those engaged in producing energy – both from fossil fuel and from renewable sources – as well as those who may live near a possible CCS facility, should consider using a proven resource such as the Implications Wheel® to better understand the possible risks and opportunities of CCS on their respective futures.

The Implications Wheel®, showing positive (blue), negative (red) and "Black Swan" (red star) implications for the organization.

The Implications Wheel®, showing positive (blue), negative (red) and “Black Swan” (red star) implications for the organization.

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