limit the overall use of coal in the next several decades. However, future emission control requirements for these regulated air pollutants could result in changed preferences for particular types of coal, depending on the nature of future regulations.

  • Decisions to invest or not invest in coal-based power plants will strongly influence future coal use, and will depend in large part on the timing and magnitude of any future constraints on CO2 emissions.

  • Large-scale demonstrations of carbon management technologies—especially carbon capture and sequestration—are needed to prove the commercial readiness of technologies to significantly reduce CO2 emissions from coal-based power plants and other energy conversion processes.

  • Detailed assessments are needed to identify and characterize geological formations in the United States that are potentially capable of sequestering large quantities of CO2; to quantify their storage capacities; to assess migration and leakage rates; and to understand the economic, legal, and environmental impacts of storage on both near-term and long-term time scales. Such geologic sequestration sites should be considered “resources,” and categorized and described in the same way that conventional mineral or energy resources are assessed.

Recommendation: The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) should play a lead role in identifying, characterizing, and cataloguing the CO2sequestration capacity of potential geologic sequestration resources.

The USGS has expertise in coordinating nationwide assessments of oil and gas, minerals, and coal, and a history of developing consensus in resource and reserve terminology. It would be appropriate for the USGS to have the same lead role in an assessment of the nation’s geologic carbon sequestration resource that it currently has with regards to coal and petroleum resources. The committee estimates that approximately $10 million per year for five years will be required for this activity. There should be close cooperation and coordination among the USGS, the Carbon Sequestration Program managed by DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy, and the states involved in the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships.


One component of this study was the specific requirement for the committee to evaluate whether a broad-based, coordinated, multiagency coal research and development program is required and, if so, to examine options for supporting and implementing such a program (see Box 1.1). To respond to this aspect of its charge, the committee carefully considered existing R&D programs and assessed the extent of—and opportunities for—coordination of coal-related research among the agencies, in the context of current federal funding across the coal fuel cycle

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement