Montana State University

Public invited to energy forum Aug. 22-23

August 17, 2007 -- By Tracy Ellig, MSU News Service

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The public will have a chance to hear about the cutting edge of science and policy surrounding the region's energy use at a free forum Aug. 22 and 23 at the Gallatin Gateway Inn.

Hosted by the Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership at Montana State University the forum features a mix of speakers with backgrounds in industry, research, government and the environment.

"The public will get a good overview of the energy issues in our region, particularly with coal," said Lee Spangler, director of the Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership.

The partnership is one of seven U.S. Department of Energy programs nationally investigating ways to deal with carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas blamed for global warming.

"Fifty-percent of all the electricity generated in the United States comes from coal-fired power plants," Spangler said. "Currently, there are more than 100 new coal-fired power plants that are either proposed or have permits in the U.S."

How to address this expansion in energy and carbon dioxide production without adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere is at the center of the Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership's research.

"This forum is an opportunity to bring people from all sides of the issue so the public can see the big picture," Spangler said.

Forum panels will address regional energy trends, an overview of current and future energy technologies, climate change polices at a local to global scale, and research into carbon sequestration.

Carbon sequestration is any process that removes -- or diverts -- carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and locks it up in some way. The forum will highlight the partnership's research into two of the most promising avenues for locking up carbon: geologic and terrestrial sequestration.

Geologic sequestration involves pumping carbon dioxide deep into the earth -- possibly thousands of feet -- into rock bands where it would be locked up and stored indefinitely.

Terrestrial sequestration involves changing farming, forestry and other land-use practices so mother nature -- through plant growth -- removes carbon dioxide from the air and locks it up in the soil and in plants.

Though the forum is free, registration is required. To register or for a complete forum agenda, visit http://www.bigskyco2.org/

Contact: Lee Spangler, director, Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership, (406) 994-4399 or spangler@montana.edu; Lindsey Waggoner, outreach coordinator, Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership, (406) 994-3755 or lwaggoner@montana.edu.