If we ever do figure out how to capture and sequester carbon emissions from coal plants (in a cost-effective way), that still leaves the question: Where are we going to store all that CO2? David Biello reports that a lot of it could get tucked away on the East Coast:
Now new research from Lackner's colleagues at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory led by geophysicist David Goldberg, shows that vast deposits of basalt lie off the coast of Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and South Carolina. Even better, the risk of leakage from such storage is low since the overlying ocean forms a second barrier of protection for the injected greenhouse gas.
Along these lines, the Sleipner natural gas project in the North Sea has successfully stored more than 10 million metric tons of CO2 for more than a decade. Just one of the formations identified in Monday's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Goldberg et al. off the coast of New Jersey could hold as much as 1 billion metric tons of CO2. Of course, the nations of the world emit more than 30 billion metric tons of CO2 per year.
I also wonder if storing carbon off the coast and under an ocean would alleviate some of the NIMBY concerns about sequestration, which seem to be popping up more frequently of late. Back in July, for instance, people in Greenville, Ohio, were protesting a project to inject CO2 from a local ethanol plant some 3,500 feet under their towns (the chance that carbon might leak back out seem to be the most common worry).
(Flickr photo credit: gordonhunter)