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Sequester that

Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I almost laughed out loud reading Mark Easley’s letter (“Sequester this,” Sept. 26) blasting the idea of underground carbon sequestration this past Friday. I would normally assume that someone who would so unrepentantly slam an idea would have a fairly strong understanding of the concept prior to their criticism, but you know what happens when you assume.

I will admit I was not able to attend the Forum last Wednesday to hear Dr. Moniz’s comments that subsequently spurred Mr. Easley’s condemnation of them. I do not know the context within which Dr. Moniz proposed carbon sequestration as a viable solution to sustainability issues in America, but for the benefit of the doubt, and for Mr. Easley’s sake, I will assume that it was intended to address the issue of carbon emissions. I actually do agree with Mr. Easley that climate change is a natural process that would happen independently of increased carbon emissions over the past two years, and that scientific evidence is at best inconclusive linking carbon dioxide and climate change. What Mr. Easley’s apparent lack of research into the issue of carbon sequestration fails to discover, unfortunately, is that injection of carbon dioxide into the ground through enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques is a far more economically viable and indeed profitable venture than his “Drill, baby, drill” exhortations would ever produce.

Oil fields in the U.S. and Canada that have had all of the easily recoverable oil removed can now become useful again, as EOR utilizes injected carbon dioxide to force oil from the rock and soil to which it binds itself very tightly, thus reaching an abundance of oil reserves that have to this point been unrecoverable. The United States Department of Energy estimates that large-scale adaptation of EOR could generate an additional 240 billion barrels of oil that would also require no exploration and discovery costs. The additional jobs returning to oilfields in the US would only add to the boon increased domestic oil production would effect on our economy.

While I have admittedly agreed with you that carbon dioxide is not the sole culprit in the issue of climate change, any scientist worth his or her salt will tell you that introducing large amounts of substances into a system will effect change of some sort. You claim that God gave us petroleum and timber to use however we see fit. If you want to go on that theory, you can hardly disagree God did not give us an infinite amount of either resource. He must not have looked too kindly on America in the first place, giving us only, under the most generous estimates, three percent of the world’s petroleum reserves. We have to develop new methods to extract more from less in order to buy time to develop renewable sources of energy. EOR promises to help give us that time to improve solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal energy so that we can put our drills away and enjoy complete energy independence. I hope you’re still laughing now, Mr. Easley.

Gene Leyden


Dillon Hall

Sept. 27