Coal-state lawmakers sparred with a top Environmental Protection Agency official Thursday over whether carbon-capture-and-storage technology is commercially viable.
"You're saying the technology is available, we're saying it's not," Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., said, addressing Janet McCabe, EPA's acting assistant administrator for air and radiation, at a hearing convened by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power.
Carbon-capture technology has been thrown into the limelight following EPA's release of draft regulations in September requiring new power plants to use it to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas.
Only four power plants in the U.S. are working to deploy the technology on a commercial scale, however, and each one has received substantial government subsidies.
EPA backers say the plants demonstrate the feasibility of the regulations. Detractors say they show just how unrealistic the standard is, citing delays and cost overruns at the plants as evidence of the difficulty utilities will have in implementing the rule.
"The Environmental Protection Agency has chosen a regulatory path devoid of common sense," Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said in testimony as a witness at the hearing, adding: "For the first time ever, the federal government is trying to force an industry to do something that is technologically impossible to achieve."