Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Carbon Capitalists - Americans should be able to drive SUVs and use air conditioners if they are willing to pay for it...

Carbon Capitalists Grab Gas From Pig Waste in Evangelical Quest

Nov. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Bill Townsend, a one-time Texas oilman, gazes up at a dark-red smokestack jutting from the cracked clay of southern Colorado and shakes his head. The chimney is connected to a small plant that processes natural gas from the surrounding plains. About 25 percent of the gas is methane, which is separated out and sold to Colorado Interstate Gas Co. Most of the rest is carbon dioxide, which, on this August morning, climbs the stack and pours into the cobalt-blue sky.

This plant, the brainchild of Townsend and his partner, Greg Spencer, is ready to sell its CO2, a major cause of global warming. Yet $7 million in new equipment to ship the gas sits idle because oil company BP Plc has yet to open part of a 400- mile (644-kilometer) pipeline that will take it to West Texas.

There, Townsend and Spencer's plan is to bury the CO2 in aging oil wells. ``All our money now is going up that pipe,'' Townsend says.

Townsend and Spencer, who met in a Utah Bible study group in 1985, are wildcatters of the CO2 era. Like American oil prospectors of a century ago, they comb the country for environmental projects that, one day, may gush profit.

The two Christian capitalists say they've found their mission: They help companies cut greenhouse gas emissions and then take a cut of the profit. They've signed contracts with more than a dozen companies giving them a share of earnings when captured emissions, mostly CO2, sell in the fledgling U.S. carbon trading market.

Buying `Offsets'

In that market, greenhouse gases that have been diverted from the atmosphere are packaged as pollution credits, known in the U.S. as ``offsets,'' and are bought or sold by the metric ton. Since 2001, Townsend and Spencer's company, Salt Lake City- based Blue Source LLC, has quietly amassed the largest collection of offsets in the country, about 270 million metric tons.

They have projects in 45 states, including efforts to bury CO2 from power plants, capture methane from rotting pig waste and mountains of garbage and curb pollution from trucks by shifting cargo to railroads.

``There's a biblical mandate to care for the planet that we have failed, as a culture and as followers of Christ, to do effectively,'' Spencer, 50, says. ``This opportunity is a privilege. The success is a blessing.''

Offsets trade in the U.S. even though President George W. Bush in 2001 pulled the country out of the Kyoto Protocol, a climate agreement that creates a cap-and-trade program to reduce global carbon emissions. In cap and trade, governments allow polluting companies a set level of annual emissions. Companies then may buy offset credits -- representing tons of emissions that haven't gone into the atmosphere -- to atone for any additional pollution.

Here is the full article.