Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and I asked the Obama administration five questions about when commercially viable carbon capture and sequestration projects might actually begin reducing CO2 emissions.

The administration sent back a letter that uses nine pages and a ton of words to say very little. Not lost in all the verbiage, however, is the fact that the Waxman-Markey global warming bill’s assumptions on dates for carbon capture and sequestration deployment just won’t work, and Energy Department recognizes that fact. That’s worrisome, because without full-scale commercial deployment on CCS technology, we’re going to have no new coal plants built and ordinary people are going to pay the price in lost jobs and big electric bills.

The administration says that larger-scale (near-commercial scale) CCS projects will take 10 or more years to complete, and may require even more time because they are complex in terms of site selection, CO2 injection and monitoring. On a positive note, the Energy Department seems to agree that there are major technical and nontechnical issues that will need to be addressed in order for CCS technologies to be commercially deployed, and it appeared to recognize that the deployment of CCS technologies will ultimately be contingent on the willingness of the public to support them.

Unfortunately, the administration doesn’t appear ready to support or even accept that there is an alternative -- advanced clean-coal technology that won’t take a decade to start cutting CO2 emissions.