CO2 – expensive stuff

The CBC reports

Alberta carbon dioxide pipeline could cost $5B
Last Updated: Thursday, March 15, 2007 | 12:19 PM MT
CBC News

A plan to pipe carbon dioxide from Alberta’s oilsands and store it underground could cost as much as $5 billion, says Alberta’s environment minister.

The province wants to capture carbon dioxide and send it through a 400-kilometre pipeline. Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Guy Boutilier said earlier this month that the pipeline would cost $1.5 billion and the carbon dioxide would be used to help get more oil out of low-producing wells.

He was pushing for the federal government and industry to split the cost of the project.

But Environment Minister Rob Renner suggested Wednesday it could cost much more.

“The number of $1.5 billion has been floated,” Renner said. “I suspect that the number — all costs included — will be significantly higher than that.

“I’ve seen estimates as high as $5 billion by the time it has taken into account the cost to industry to implement the [carbon] capture facilities.”


Wow. Just a thought here, and ignoring that the carbon dioxide would be sequestered (for how long and how securely?) in an effort to bring yet more fossil fuel to the surface so it can be burned and converted to carbon dioxide, most of which won’t be captured but will add to the greenhouse mix; so my thought is, just how much energy conservation technology could be implemented with $5 billion (even if it is Canadian dollars), or even the lower estimate of $1.5 billion? I’d definitely bet a dollar that it’d be enough to cancel out way more CO2 emissions than the pipeline would help sequester (and I repeat, for how long, and how securely?).

So why not invest in energy conservation instead? Um, well, the answer is that a market/capitalist economy isn’t based on doing things sensibly. (And yes, I quite well realize that most all currently or previously existing socialist economies aren’t necessarily either.) The people with the money aren’t looking for ways to invest it so that it does the most good. They’re looking for ways to invest it so that it gives them a profitable return, the more profitable, the better. There’s not a great profit to be made by investing in the energy conservation of others, while you can make a killing by bringing fossil carbon to the surface and selling it to people who want to burn it and release it into the atmosphere.

An alternative is to enable some better degree of democracy in directing the economy. Would Canadians, or Americans, or whoever democratically choose to direct vast sums of economic resources towards energy conservation rather than drilling and pumping and using more oil? I don’t know, but I’d like the opportunity to find out!

Ah, well.