Fracking vs. Carbon Capture

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Fascinating post from Brad Plumer on how the new EPA regulations for emissions from new power plants will pit coal and natural gas against each other in a more fundamental way:

Here’s the problem: One day, utilities might figure out a cost-effective way to capture the carbon-dioxide emitted from coal plants and store it in geological formations deep underground. But this can onlywork if there’s a layer of hard, impermeable caprock above the storage areas — so that the carbon can’t leech out into the air.

And the current natural-gas boom makes that task much harder. In a recent study in Environmental Science & Technology, Elliot and Celia find that roughly 80 percent of the suitable basins for carbon storage also overlap with shale-gas and tight-gas fields. And the “fracking” techniques that drillers use to extract gas from these rocks will likely poke holes in that hard cover — potentially making these areas unusable for carbon storage.

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