In a letter to The Californian printed on March 23, a reader writes about the proposed Hydrogen Energy California project ("Don't use Kern as an experiment") and concludes that "perhaps ... carbon-capture technology is something that merits testing ... Kern County is not the place for such an untested experiment."

Carbon capture is only one component of the HECA project -- the one that should raise no objections at all. In fact, HECA refers to its project as "capturing carbon" for enhanced oil recovery. Capturing carbon for EOR is not an experimental technology and is being used with great success elsewhere. Carbon capture, the injection of carbon dioxide into deep, underground, permanent storage -- which the U.S. Department of Energy and other agencies refer to as carbon capture for sequestration -- could still be considered "experimental" because, for all of its promise, it has pretty much only been employed on a pilot basis.

Carbon capture has the potential for use at any facility, including existing facilities, generating carbon dioxide as an exhaust such as refineries or power plants. The HECA project proposes transporting coal to its Kern County facility as a fuel and new emissions source, and I would think that would be the component of the project that the letter writer is really objecting to. Carbon dioxide EOR should be pretty successful and produce a substantial amount of incremental oil, but it's really a by-product to the basic project.

Hal Bopp