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Letter: Lignite Council letter incomplete and misleading

A misleading letter from Steve Van Dyke, vice president of communications of the Lignite Energy Council, was published by The Forum Sept. In it, Van Dyke seemed to be arguing that a recent report on government spending on carbon capture and sequestration technology is inaccurate because it did not profile the Great Plains Synfuels Plant.

The truth is that the report, "Too Good to be True," addressed several of Van Dyke's stated concerns, and that the activities of the Great Plains facility are otherwise not relevant to its conclusions.

Here are the facts:

Electricity generated from coal plants with carbon capture and sequestration technology is the most expensive form of electricity. These plants cannot compete with other forms of electricity, despite billions of taxpayer dollars thrown at them over the decades.

Enhanced oil recovery is an unreliable method of permanently storing carbon. The leading researcher in the field has found that CO2 reductions from EOR is, at best, a wash. There are several examples—detailed in the report—of catastrophic carbon dioxide "blowouts" from EOR operations.

There is not enough space underground to store the amount of carbon necessary to have a meaningful effect on climate change. Two Stanford geophysicists quoted in the report write that "it would take 85 (large-scale carbon storage) sites coming online each year to reach a goal of storing approximately 1 billion tons of CO2 by midcentury." That, to use Van Dyke's words, is "pie in the sky."

The report is available at

Trechock lives in Dickinson, N.D.