The mysterious Q Division in the James Bond movie franchise was always on hand with inane, though coldly effective, inventions that would save Bond and defeat even the most diabolical enemy. In the magic of the movies, a bit of public money directed towards the R&D staff of the British Secret Service always seemed to save the day.
This analysis identifies a number of federal programs supporting coal, including some that while not directly targeted at coal provide significant benefit to the coal sector. In total these subsidies provided approximately $25.4 billion in financial support for coal production, transport, use, or waste disposal during the period 2002-2010. The majority of these dollars - $16.2 billion - are attributable to tax benefits. Of these tax benefits, the single largest category was the non-conventional fuels tax credit, providing $12.22 billion to coal.
Just last week, the Economist magazine noted in an editorial that:
However you measure the full cost of a gallon of gas, pollution and all, Americans are nowhere close to paying it. Indeed, their whole energy industry—from subsidies for corn ethanol to limited liability for nuclear power—is a slick of preferences and restrictions, without peer. The tinkering that will follow this spill will merely further complicate it.
Through its focus on incentives for the coal industry, this document provides one of the best summaries we've seen on subsidies to coal gasification, Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) technology, and associated carbon capture and storage (CCS) methods. Of particular merit are the state-by-state summaries of coal-supportive programs and policies. As the document was published four years ago, some program may have changed; however, the normal duration of subsidy policies suggests the vast majority remain in effect.
Despite industry advertising to the contrary, an analysis by the Center of American Progress determined that ACCCEs companies spend relatively few dollars conducting research on carbon capture and storage, among the most promising clean coal technology to reduce global warming pollution from coal-fired power plants. This technology would allow power plants to capture 85 percent or more of their carbon dioxide emissions and permanently store them underground in geological formations.