He also pointed out that the federal government is setting aside $8 billion in loan guarantees for development of advanced fossil energy and efficiency projects. He and lawmakers mentioned several studies of new technologies which would allow the burning of coal in cleaner ways.
He said there are really only three effective ways to generate “base load” electricity, the generation for heavy users in industry and residential uses: coal, natural gas and nuclear.
But the country is moving away from coal and remains reluctant to pursue nuclear energy because of the cost and fears about wastes and accidents. But Peters warned of the danger of a “one-fuel economy,” noting that natural gas prices may increase after power plants have invested billions of dollars in plants that are expected to use natural gas for 30 years.
Most of the lawmakers on the committee represent coal-field districts, and they aren’t happy with the new regulations. Repeatedly, they tried to get Peters to question the validity of “climate change” studies.
Peters responded diplomatically, but in the end, he said the evidence is “overwhelming” that the earth is warming over time, even in spite of data that indicates recent cooling. He also said CO2, carbon emissions, form the greatest concentration of “greenhouse gases” in the atmosphere and pose significantly more threats than methane or naturally occurring forms of CO2.
He and LG&E and KU President for External Affairs, George Siemens, also told the committee there really is no way to burn carbon fuels without carbon emissions and that a lot of the proposed technologies such as carbon capture and sequestration simply aren’t yet workable or affordable. So the task is an immense one, especially for a coal-producing, high-energy state like Kentucky.
“This is unlike anything we have dealt with before,” Siemens said.