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Carbon capture needs a price -- study

WASHINGTON, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- A U.S. government task force says carbon capture and storage technology is viable, but a price needs to be set on carbon emissions.

In its report released Thursday, the task force, called for by President Obama in February, said there are no "insurmountable" technical, legal, institutional or other barriers to CCS.

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"Widespread cost-effective deployment of CCS is best achieved with a carbon price," the report states.

CCS technologies trap carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants and store them underground.

The report notes that United States government has invested more in CCS than any other country.

The Department of Energy, the task force says, is pursuing a number of CCS demonstration projects with nearly $4 billion in federal funds, matched by more than $7 billion in private investments.

While CCS technologies exist, the report says, "scaling up" these processes and integrating them with coal-based power generation "poses technical, economic, and regulatory challenges."

The report also warns that CCS technologies are not likely to be used in the next two decades without financial incentives.

"A diversified energy portfolio, which includes coal, is important for a strong 21st century American economy," Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said in a statement.

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"These recommendations move us toward bringing safe and deployable CCS technologies to the marketplace to help us meet the goal of reducing harmful carbon emissions while continuing to use this energy source," she said.

The task force, which includes 14 federal agencies, called for a federal agency roundtable and expert committee to promote Obama's goal of having five to 10 commercial CCS demonstration projects online by 2016.

"This report furthers my view that there is plenty we can do to advance CCS right now, in the near-term, even as the larger debate about climate policy takes place over time," Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said in a statement.

Rockefeller, an ally of his home state's coal sector, has called for putting aside legislation to cap greenhouse gas emissions.

"CCS represents the next wave of clean coal technology, allowing us to safely capture and store carbon dioxide," said American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity President and CEO Steve Miller in a statement, noting that coal generates nearly half of the United States' electricity.

"Investments in this technology are critical, and we look forward to a continued partnership between the private sector and the federal government to ensure its development," he said.

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