An MIT report released yesterday indicates the U.S. will have to invest more in the capture and storage of carbon dioxide, the main "greenhouse gas" and a byproduct of coal electricity production, if limits are imposed on carbon emissions -- a prospect that has increased with the advent of a Democrat-controlled Congress. In addition, China and India, which are rapidly expanding their use of coal, are unlikely to take action to contain greenhouse gases unless the U.S. takes the lead. The U.S. gets half its electricity from coal and China 80%. The government is planning an experimental coal burning power plant called FutureGen, scheduled for operation in 2012, that will be capable of capturing and storing an annual million tons of carbon dioxide deep in the earth -- but the MIT study says several such plants need to be developed simultaneously. If future emissions limits are not met, coal will cease to be a primary fuel source, posing a threat to the industry. According to the study, the government should spend approximately $1 billion on five tests to demonstrate to China and India that CO2 "sequestration" technology can work. It also suggests that government tax breaks and other incentives be provided to new coal plants that incorporate carbon capture and safe storage.
Sources: MIT: The Future of Coal in a Carbon Constrained World, MoneyCentral, Wall Street Journal
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Stocks/ETFs to watch: Fuel Tech (NASDAQ:FTEK), Headwaters, Inc. (NYSE:HW), Peabody Energy (BTU), Foundation Coal (NYSE:FCL), Penn Virginia Resources (NYSE:PVR), Massey Energy (NYSE:MEE), Arch Coal (NYSE:ACI). ETFs: Vanguard Extended Market Index ETF (NYSEARCA:VXF), PowerShares Lux Nanotech (NYSEARCA:PXN)
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