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Limiting Greenhouse Gases

Tuesday, June 27, 2006 at 1:08 PM

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Yesterday the Ohio Environmental Council released a plan to help the state reduce global greenhouse gas emissions that capitalizes on many of Ohio's traditional industries. But one critic charges the plan doesn't go far enough. ideastream's Karen Schaefer reports.

It’s only a matter of time before government intervenes to limit greenhouse gases. That’s the message from the Ohio Environmental Council’s latest report on climate change. It’s a road map to show how Ohio can position itself to reduce climate change impacts to the environment and to the state’s economy. David Calabrezze, outreach coordinator for the group, says Ohio has a lot of catching up to do.

David Calabrezze: Our emissions account for 4.5% of the United States total greenhouse gas emissions and rank the Buckeye state third-most in the nation for greenhouse gas emissions, trailing only Texas and California.

Calabrezze says increasing societal pressure to reduce greenhouse gases presents opportunities for Ohio’s mainstay industries - agriculture, manufacturing and coal. One of the report’s recommendations would convert farms from conventional to conservation tillage, saving fuel costs for farmers and stripping carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Another suggestion to invest in technological innovations like more fuel-efficient cars could reduce CO2 up to 56 million tons a year. But Calabrezze says it’s changes in the way we burn coal to make electricity that could have the greatest impact.

David Calabrezze: Phasing in the replacement of Ohio’s conventional coal-burning power plants with coal gasification power plants with added technology to capture and store CO2 underground, this could get us reductions from the 2000 levels up to 104 million tons a year.

Michael Carey likes the idea. He’s head of the Ohio Coal Association and a member of the group that’s trying to bring the federal government’s experiment in coal gasification - called FutureGen - to Ohio.

Michael Carey: I think the whole debate on man-made global warming is an issue that obviously deserves a lot more study. But I think the key point is that they know and we know that clean coal technology is the answer to address many of the concerns that both of us have.

But Carey - who labels the FutureGen project Coal University for coal gasification - admits that the technology is new. While Carey is optimistic about the potential of the technology, John Petersen is not. Petersen is assistant professor of environmental studies at Oberlin College.

John Petersen: My gut response is a skeptical one to extensive use of that technology. I think we have a tendency to sort of try to take our existing industries and find ways to modify them such that they can match our future needs. I think we need to go beyond that sort of thing in this circumstance and rethink our technological future.

Petersen believes while all options should be explored, it might be wiser to invest in wind power or some other alternative energy technology. But he agrees that the need for action is urgent. The Ohio Climate Road Map report recommends the state begin targeted reductions in less than four years. For 90.3 News, I’m Karen Schaefer.

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