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Upton: Breakthrough WMU Research Could Transform Climate Debate, Create Countless Jobs in Region

Upton spearheading bipartisan effort in Congress to support state-of-the-art research conducted at WMU to bring cutting-edge clean coal technologies to market

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Kalamazoo, MI, January 15, 2010 | Sean C. Bonyun ((202) 225-3761) | comments

As the debate over cap-and-trade legislation continues in Congress, Congressman Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) today joined Dr. John Dunn, President of Western Michigan University, and researchers from the Michigan Basin Core Research Lab to highlight landmark research being conducted to advance clean coal technologies and reduce harmful greenhouse gases. WMU is a national leader in the development of carbon capture and sequestration technologies, which have the potential to revolutionize the effort to reduce carbon emissions. Upton, top Republican on the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee and strong supporter of clean coal technologies, delivered $618,475 last year for WMU’s state-of-the-art research that has tremendous job potential for the region.

“Everything must be on the table as we seek to reduce carbon emissions and promote the development of clean energy - whether it be clean coal technologies, nuclear power or a greater use of renewables like wind and solar,” said Upton. “Western Michigan University is at the forefront in the development of new groundbreaking carbon capture and sequestration technologies that will not only keep costs down for consumers, but also foster new jobs and a strong economy. Dr. Dunn and his impressive team of dedicated professors and researchers are trailblazers in the development of green technologies that will help transform our society for the better, making southwest Michigan an epicenter in the effort to reduce emissions.”

“Sustainability, enhancing our environment and building a healthy economy are among the core values of this University,” says WMU President John M. Dunn. “Congressman Upton’s support has been a tremendous help in allowing our researchers to focus on technology that could transform the way our state and nation handle harmful emissions at the same time we boost our economy.”

The $618,000 that Upton delivered last year has helped the university partner with Michigan industry, energy utility companies and local governments to examine the potential for carbon sequestration in the state’s deep geological formations. It was also announced in the fall that the research program received a $601,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to help Michigan actively address greenhouse gas emissions from stationary emission sites, such as electric power plants, ethanol production plants and chemical and refining operations.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, Upton and Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) have co-authored bipartisan legislation, H.R. 1689, to advance the development and deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. CCS is a method of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by capturing and injecting underground the carbon dioxide emitted from electricity generation plants that use fossil fuels. The legislation would establish a $1 billion annual fund, derived from fees on the generation of electricity from coal, oil and natural gas. Grants from the fund will be awarded to large-scale projects advancing the commercial availability of CCS technology. The bipartisan legislation makes funds available for state-of-the-art research programs like the research being conducted by Western Michigan University’s Michigan Basin Core Research Lab.

Upton believes that in an era when energy is vital to maintaining a healthy economy, it is imperative that the nation’s vast reserves of coal be used in ways that are affordable, yet environmentally responsible. Capturing and storing carbon dioxide emissions from electric power plants fueled by coal is the right, environmentally responsible solution.

“Although study after study reveals that cap-and-trade is a job killer that puts the bullseye squarely on the backs of working families with skyrocketing electric rates and gas prices, it is possible to reduce emissions and create jobs through a thoughtful, ‘all of the above’ approach,” said Upton. “We are a nation that consists of the world’s best and brightest minds. With a greater emphasis on new technologies and harnessing American ingenuity, rather than arbitrary mandates, we can go to great lengths to address our expanding power needs in an environmentally and economically sensitive manner.”

While some commercial CCS projects are in operation, they are small in scale and have the purpose of enhancing oil recovery. Further research, development and demonstration is necessary for the permanent storage underground of large quantities of CO2 in a variety of storage media in widely dispersed locations around the nation. Carbon conversion technology also exhibits promise with the ability to convert CO2 into an environmentally harmless form. The new fund will finance research on various methods of capturing CO2 from the combustion process and establish the reliability of conversion or storage in multiple storage sites.

Upton and Boucher’s bipartisan legislation enjoys broad support and has been endorsed by the United Mine Workers of America, the National Mining Association, American Electric Power, Edison Electric Institute, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, Duke Energy, Dominion Power, Southern Company, Progress Energy and the Salt River Project.

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