A report released Wednesday dismisses a technology that is a cornerstone of Canada's climate change policy as "sheer folly."
The report, written by Edmonton Journal columnist Graham Thomson for the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto, concludes investing in carbon capture is currently too risky as neither the proper science nor the proper laws are in place.
Carbon capture and storage involves siphoning carbon dioxide from the emissions of industrial plants, carrying it by pipeline to a location where it can be injected underground.
The report is compiled from published reports and interviews with experts. Thomson raised concerns about the lack of regulations, the possible contamination of groundwater, and the high costs of building facilities.
As recently as Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama identified carbon capture and storage as a way to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide. The Canadian government has committed $140 million to eight projects and the province of Alberta is funding three projects with $2 billion.
Other experts have dismissed concerns about leaks saying the likelihood is small, given that natural gas has stayed trapped underground for millions of years. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded that leakage risks are minor, especially from aquifers thousands of metres below groundwater supplies.
Costs do remain an issue. Oil producer ConocoPhillips looked at building a carbon capture and storage project in the Canadian oilsands and dismissed the idea when the cost estimate came out at $200 per tonne of carbon dioxide stored.