tv PBS News Hour PBS June 14, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight: ( gunfire ) >> the first shot, i didn't realize was a gun shot. i just heard a loud pop. >> woodruff: what we're learning about a gunman opened fire on members of congress during an early morning practice for the congressional baseball game, shooting the third highest- ranking republican in the house of representatives, steve scalise, among several others. then, a massive fire at a london apartment tower leaves at least a dozen dead as rescuers search for people trapped inside the 24-story tower. and, is there such a thing as clean coal? a look at the nation's largest carbon capturing plant, part of a plan to clean up the environment while keeping the
coal industry alive. >> we're just now reaching the point where this technology is mature enough to be considered for rollout to the broad coal- fired fleet in the united states and around the world. >> woodruff: all that and more, on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: ♪ ♪ moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects
us. >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems-- skollfoundation.org. >> the lemelson foundation. committed to improving lives through invention, in the u.s. and developing countries. on the web at lemelson.org. >> supported by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at macfound.org >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you.
thank you. >> woodruff: a leading republican in the u.s. house lies critically wounded tonight. the man who shot him and four others with a rifle, is dead. they came together in a fusillade of bullets and bloodshed early today, just outside washington. our lisa desjardins begins our coverage. ( gunfire ) >> reporter: for at least five minutes, gunshots crackled across the northern virginia baseball field where republican members of congress were practicing. cell phone video shared with the newshour captured a harrowing scene of a gunfight between the attacker and capitol police. >> is he all right? that guy out there, is he all right? >> reporter: the man who shot the video, noah nathan, had been out walking his dogs. >> i saw congressional players and, you know, they're a regular here, practicing in the morning. and then i heard, i thought it was fireworks. and then i heard another one and
realized, "okay, maybe that's not fireworks, it's gunfire." and then people started scattering, and then there was more shots and you could hear them skimming off the gravel and hitting the fence. it was a helpless feeling. i couldn't do anything. >> reporter: as lawmakers jumped over fences, seeking cover, house majority whip steve scalise was shot in the hip. alabama congressman mo brooks saw it all. >> it's the feeling of helplessness, when you've got a baseball bat and a guy's got a rifle and you see your friends-- steve scalise in particular-- lying on the ground, dragging himself from the infield dirt to the outfield grass, and there was nothing we could do. >> reporter: georgia congressman barry loudermilk says it was not a random attack. >> there were civilians out there. there were people walking their dogs, laying on the ground screaming and crying, but he was not targeting them. he was shooting at us. >> reporter: joe barton of texas had taken his young sons to the practice. >> we got-- some of us were in the dugout, some of us were on the ground. i was behind the dugout. my son jack got under an s.u.v. and he was very brave. my other son brad was in the
batting cage and he also was very brave. >> reporter: two congressional in the video, you can hear people shouting for police to shoot the gunman. >> shoot him! >> reporter: again, mo brooks: >> the bravery they displayed, taking on a guy with the rifle while they have pistols, shooting from long distance. and if they had not been successful, then the tragedy here would have undoubtedly been much greater. because those of us who were in the first base dugout, we'd of had no chance. >> reporter: first responders were on the scene in minutes. some victims were airlifted to hospitals by helicopter. scalise underwent surgery and was in critical condition. the suspected shooter was also taken to the hospital, where he died of his wounds. police identified him as 66-year-old james hodgkinson of belleville, illinois. >> law enforcement has reason to believe that the shooter has been in alexandria, virginia, area, sunshine marc-- since marf this year.
the f.b.i. has issued an information poster located on our website asking the public to come forward with information on the shooter. >> reporter: florida congressman ron desantis believes he talked with hodgkinson just before the shooting. >> an unidentified individual walked up to the car, asked congressman duncan, who was in the passenger seat, whether they were republicans or democrats in the field. it struck me as odd. not odd to the extent that i thought he was going to shoot people. >> reporter: already, a picture has begun to emerge of hodgkinson. a facebook page of the same name is filled with anti-trump posts, and hodgkinson apparently volunteered for bernie sanders' presidential campaign. the vermont senator today condemned the shooting on the senate floor: >> i am sickened by this despicable act. and let me be as clear as i can be-- violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society.
>> there is a contrast between a shooting and a neighborhood putting up signs of welcome and opposing exphait this act of violence that some say may symbolize rising anger in america. at the scene, virginia governor terry mcauliffe specifically pointed to politics. >> we all have a responsibility to keep community safe. what you saw in the last presidential campaign dug in hard feelings out there that exist, i do think our country has become way too divided between red and blue. >> reporter: president trump echoed the cry for unity at the white house, hours after the shooting. >> we may have our differences, but we do well in times like these to remember that everyone who serves in our nation's capital is here because, above all, they love our country. >> reporter: the house cancelled votes for the day, but shaken lawmakers-- democrats and
republicans alike-- gathered on the house floor in a show of solidarity. >> we are united. we are united in our shock, we are united in our anguish. an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. >> we cannot let that be a victory for the assailant or anyone who would think that way. so tomorrow, we'll go out on the field. and we'll use this occasion as one that brings us together and not separates us further. >> an update on conditions. congressman scalise and one other staffer who was shot are in critical condition. the others injured today we're told are in good or fair condition. and, also, about that baseball game-- it is scheduled to be, as planned, tomorrow night. they are not cancelling. and, judy, they're adding another charity cause, the
fallen officers fund. >> woodruff: and, lisa, are there changes in security as a result of what happened? >> i think the answer to that, judy, is not yet. here, of course, the capitol is a highly secure building. there are no change here's. no one said there need to be changes. but there is a real question about these events where many members of congress gaghtener one place. congressman scalise's security detail there was today, as well as one other capitol police officer because so many congressmen were present. they're wondering if there need to be more of a police presence when there are not just leaders but any members of congress gathered in one place like that. >> woodruff: and, lisa, you're at that capitol building every day practically. how are people dealing with this? >> i think the mood today, judy, is sober. it's not highly emotional, but it's one where they are taking very serious stock of where we are as a nation and where people are in terms of how they look at their leaders and how they look at violence. i think there's also a lot of questions today about whether
police plil rhetoric has, indeed, gone too far, and whether the divides that affect the votes on the house and senate floor are reverberating back and forth with public divides now rising into anger and violence. >> woodruff: lisa desjardins who covers the capitol every day for us. lisa, you have been on this story all day from the moment you heard about it this morning. thank you very much. >> my pleasure. >> woodruff: and we are now joined by the two managers of the congressional baseball teams, republican representative joe barton of texas, who, as you just saw, was at this morning's baseball practice, and democratic representative michael doyle of pennsylvania. gentlemen, welcome to the program. congressman barton, to you, first. first of all, we're so glad that you are all right. we saw that you were there with your two sons. how are you doing? >> we're doing fine. everybody was looking out for my two sons, and thank gosh that
the capitol police were there and immediately returning fire, which diverted the gunman from attacking the members who were on the field. >> woodruff: did you feel there was anything more that could have been done this morning? >> not really. i mean, we practice in a public park. there's a dog park. there's a y.m.c.a. by the baseball field. there are joggers. there are-- it's just, you know, most mornings, there are people out doing their exercise and walking their dogs. we don't make any attempt to restrict people from watching the practice. this individual who did the shooting, some of the members think they saw him yesterday, and i thought he had just driven in. apparently he had been in the area for some time. so i don't-- i don't know how you can function in an open democracy, especially in the house of representatives, with
435 members, and not have public access. and, again, this game has been played for about-- over 100 years. there's never been anything like this before. >> woodruff: congressman doyle, where were you when you heard this? and what did you think? >> we were in the middle of our practice. we were having batting practice, and i was standing behind home plate, you know, instruct are our batters and i got a text message from one of my staff saying, "are you okay?" and i was puzzled by the-- by the text. and then i saw right below it a news clip saying, "shooter at congressional baseball practice." and realized at that moment that it had to be over at the republican practice. so i called my team off the field because we didn't have much information at the time, to get them over in the dugout and let them all know what happened
and what i was hearing. and there was sort of a-- i call it a stunned silence with most of the players. we just couldn't believe something like this was happening. and there wasn't much we could do where we were. so we basically just huddled up and started saying some prayers for our republican colleagues that they'd be safe and that nobody would be hurt badly. and after that, you know, the reports started to flood in to our phones and we've just, you know, were reading them like everyone else. >> woodruff: congressman barton, and, again, we know that you both were practicing for this congressional game, annual congressional game that's taking place tomorrow night. you're going ahead with it. i just asked lisa desjardins this question, our reporter at the capitol, and she said this is-- the reaction there has been sober, that people are-- to some extent, members may be rethinking whether things have gotten too partisan. what do you think? >> well, the reaction here has been very supportive of the
republicans on the team. congressman doyle and his democratic players have reached out to us personally. the speaker and mrs. pelosi, the minority leader, had talked directly. everybody is supportive because we are-- we have an "r" or "d" by our name, but our title-- ( sighs ) our title is "united states representative." and i'm very proud to be a member of the congress. and i'm proud to serve with people like mike doyle. so, you know, we feel very blessed that we're here to have this interview. had the shooter not been attacked by the capitol hill police who risked their lives--
and two of them got shot-- had he gotten inside the fence of the field and gotten to the first base dugout, there were 20, 15 members and five or six staffers in that dugout huddled down-- it's actually lowered below-the-field dugout-- and there would have been no place for them to run. tow is could have been much worse. >> woodruff: congressman doyle, i can see the pain in both of your faces. is this a time for coming together in some way and for rethinking, as we said, some of the partisanship? >> i think all of us are reflecting on that today. joe and i have been associated with this game for quite a while, and we've been friends for a long time. his son, jack, is like one of my nephews. always comes up and asks me how i'm doing and always tries to get intelligence from jack on what his dad is up to, and jack
never gives him up. so he's a good kid that way. but i gotta tell you, there was a real feeling of helplessness on our part as we stood there in the dugout reading the reports that were coming in. we know-- we know all these guys. they're our friends. we may have differences politically, but they're our friends, and we care about them very much. and i think all of us are reflecting on how each one of us individually can set an example for the country, too, because when people see their leaders being uncivil towards one another, then you start to see the public being uncivil towards one another and towards their leaders. and i think that's got to change. so maybe it starts with us, and maybe this will change some attitudes here. >> woodruff: congressman barton, i hear and i see the affection between the two of you, and i-- and i am seeing and hearing you say it exists with others.
but i think it's fair to say, it doesn't always come across in the news coverage. >> politics in washington is a contact sport. but it shouldn't be a personal animosity sport. and with mike and i and a lot of other members, it's not. i do want to apologize for getting emotional a minute ago. you know, tom hanks was the manager of a women's baseball team, and in that movie, he has the famous line, "there's no crying in baseball." well, there's shouldn't be any crying in congressional baseball. and i do approximation for my emotional outburst a minute ago. >> woodruff: no-- >> i would say there's lots of members of congress that get along. we tend to not be the ones the media is interested in interviewing. oftentimes, the media's interested in interviewing the two that are throwing the swords at each other. so maybe the news media, too, can reflect a little bit on that and show some of the positive things that take place down
here. >> that's true. >> woodruff: and that's something for us to reflect on. well, we so appreciate the two of you being together right now. and now apology needed, congressman barton. it's entirely understandable why you would be emotional at a time like this. we thank you. we're thankful that are you all right. we thank you for talking with us. congressman doyle, thank you. we thank you both. >> thank you. >> woodruff: the day's other major story is in london, where a fast-moving fire engulfed an high-rise apartment building. it killed at least 12 people and injured scores. we have a report from dan rivers of independent television news, and with a warning-- some of the images and sounds may be disturbing. >> reporter: with horrifying ferocity, the fire consumed grenfell tower in minutes. a 24-floor inferno, from which there was no escape for some.
trapped by smoke and flames, residents signaled their plight from on high as the building disintegrated around them. on this mobile phone footage, the cries for help are chilling. >> help! >> we saw people looking out of the windows, screaming for help. screaming "help, help." flashing their lights and everything. and now all those windows, people are gone. literally gone. >> i saw one person trying to jump out. one actually jumped out, and obviously what happened. it's just a nightmare. >> reporter: the streets around grenfell tower were soon full of those who escaped its flames. children among those suffering from the acrid fumes.
an exhausted little girl is cradled as the shock and bewilderment sink in. many here have lost everything. some are still unsure what's happened to neighbors, friends, loved ones; and above them, the fire raged on. as the sky lightened, the flames continued to devour the building. this was the view from the south bank, the plume of smoke visible for 20 miles. with daylight, stories of extraordinary escape started to emerge. >> a lady appeared at the window, gesturing, body language, from what she was saying, "i'm about to throw my baby, please catch the baby." and the baby i think was wrapped in some sort of bed sheet, blanket. and she threw the baby. as the baby came down-- and this was about the 9th or 10th floor-- a member of the public, a gentleman ran forward and miraculously grabbed the baby.
and like i said, above you, from the left, from the right, you see kids. it was harrowing, torturing screams for help. young kids and, i think also where the fire was now spread, people were reaching out from windows, trying to grasp a bit of fresh air, trying to breathe in like they were struggling. and there were, at one point, one window where four or five heads all squeezing their heads through. it was honestly like a horror movie. >> reporter: some had knotted sheets together in an attempt to escape. but even this left them several floors from safety. >> people were jumping, people were screaming, saying "help me, help me, help me." >> reporter: the cause of the fire is unknown, but one resident claims it spread from her neighbor's flat. possibly a faulty appliance. >> the fire started from the kitchen, but i don't know exactly from which problem, i don't know. but it was from the kitchen, because the flat door was open. >> reporter: it's already clear that the death toll will be
significant. up to 600 people lived in grenfell house, in 120 flats. for those who were on the very upper floors, the odds of survival seem slim. those fighting the fire confirmed today how challenging it's been to extinguish. >> this was an unprecedented fire in terms of scale, speed, and spread. now, just to reiterate that point, the incident continues to be a challenging incident for us. >> reporter: there is speculation that a gap behind a recently added external cladding may have created a chimney effect, allowing the flames to spread. some had to wait all night before they escaped. this man was still calling for help six hours after the fire started. at times, he disappeared into clouds of smoke, but incredibly, he did finally make it out, one of 65 rescued from grenfell tower today.
tonight, while most of the flame have been put out, the charred shell of the tower block continues to smolder. it may be days before the final death toll is known, and much longer before the cause of this tragedy is pinpointed. >> woodruff: prime minister theresa may promised a full investigation, and the british government ordered safety checks at other high- rises undergoing renovations. in the day's other news, leaders of the senate intelligence committee held their first meeting with robert mueller, the special counsel investigating russian meddling in the 2016 election. that
followed 24 hours of speculation about mueller's future. last night, white house spokeswoman sarah huckabee sanders told reporters: "while the president has the right to" fire mueller, "he has no intention to do so." the "new york times" reported mr. trump began contemplating his dismissal shortly after he was appointed. the u.s. senate overwhelmingly
approved new sanctions on russia today, over its election hacking. the penalties target those involved in human rights abuses and cyber crime. the bill also blocks the president from removing sanctions without congressional approval. ahead of the vote, secretary of state rex tillerson warned a house panel against limiting the president's options. >> i would urge congress to ensure any legislation allows the president to have the flexibility to adjust sanctions to meet the needs of what is always an evolving diplomatic situation. essentially, we would ask for the flexibility to turn the heat up when we need to, but also to ensure that we have the ability to maintain a constructive dialogue. >> woodruff: the amendment is part of a broader bill dealing with sanctions on iran. if it clears the senate, the measure still needs house approval. president trump has now handed off authority over troop levels in afghanistan to secretary of
defense james mattis. mattis confirmed it today, but said it does not mean an immediate increase in u.s. deployments. meanwhile, the u.n. secretary general, antonio guterres, visited kabul today. he said there is "no military solution" for the country's long-running war. back in this country, a gunman in san francisco killed three people at a u.p.s. warehouse, before turning the gun on himself. police say the man was a u.p.s. employee, armed with an assault pistol. heavily armed officers searched the sprawling complex, after the shooting started, as dozens of employees poured out of the building. five people were charged with involuntary manslaughter today in the lead-contaminated water crisis in flint, michigan. the case involves the death of an elderly man from legionnaires' disease, allegedly brought on by the tainted water. those charged today include nick lyon, the state's health and
human services director. he could get up to 15 years in prison if he's convicted. the federal reserve has raised a key, short-term interest rate again, meaning rates for credit cards and similar debt are going up. the quarter point hike is the third in six months. in washington today, fed chair janet yellen suggested it's a vote of confidence. >> the economy is doing well, is showing resilience. we have a very strong labor market, an unemployment rate that's declined to levels we have not seen since 2001. >> woodruff: the fed also announced plans to start gradually scaling back its bond holdings. that could cause long-term interest rates to rise. nearly 200 democratic lawmakers are suing president trump over foreign money and his global business empire. they say he never divested and
he is violating, they say, the constitution's emoluments clause. the attorneys general from maryland to columbia filed a similar suit this week. on wall street today, the dow jones industrial average gained 46 points to close at 21,374. the nasdaq fell 25 points, and the s&p 500 slipped two. and, a french pilot successfully crossed the english channel in a flying car today. the machine was part dune buggy, and part paraglider. it took off from an abandoned runway near calais, france and took just under an hour to make the crossing. the pilot-- and car-- landed safely near dover, a journey of about 36 miles. now you've seen it. still to come on the newshour: how the defense secretary's new authority could change troop levels in afghanistan. the latest technology that aims
to capture carbon emissions from coal. and, much more. >> woodruff: the trump administration is taking steps to increasing america's military presence in afghanistan, after years of reducing u.s. forces on the ground there. william brangham has the story. >> brangham: over the past few months, the administration has been conducting a review of america's 16-year war in afghanistan. the current u.s. commander in afghanistan, general john nicholson, has recommended sending 3,000-5,000 more troops to augment the 10,000 americans and 3,000 allied forces that are already there. today, defense secretary james mattis announced that the president had now given him the authority to decide appropriate troop levels. for more on all of this we turn to retired lieutenant general douglas lute. he served on the national security council staffs in both
the george w. bush and barack obama administrations, where he focused on afghanistan, iraq, and south asia. for the past four years, he served as u.s. ambassador to nato, and he's now a senior fellow at harvard university. welcome to the newshour. >> good to be here. >> this decision by the president to hand secretary of defense james mattis the decision making for troop levels. how unusual is that? >> well, it is unusual, but i think we should first appreciate that we should have confidence in the entire pentagon chain of command, starting with secretary mattis, but all the way down through central manned, and then ultimately to general nicholson, mick nicholson, who you mentioned, who is our four-star commander in afghanistan. so this is a very experienced team, responsible individuals. they're going to take this new authority seriously. i also think there is a logic. there is a rationale to providing the pentagon some flexibility. it gives them more ajilt to fit
the number of troops to the task in afghanistan, and that all makes sense. it does, however, raise one concern, and that's the concern that strategy is made up of a lot more than just the pentagon piece. and so, i would be concerned, or i would be interested in hearing how the administration intends to make sure that the other pieces-- the political side of the equation, the diplomatic equation, the economic assistance equation, the intelligence community's role-- how all these various pieces are fit together in a coherent hole. >> well, you raise a very good question. traditionally we think of strategy being set from the top, from the president, with advice from all of the relevant agencies below. what do you think thises does does to the decision-making process for a country like afghanistan. >> well, i think it's too soon to tell. the traditional role is that the security council would have this oversight role, this coordinating role, to make sure the strategy-- all the pieces relate to one another in a coherent way. it's not clear whether this move
to give additional authorities, additional autonomy to the pentagon is just opening step, or whether there will still be a role for the n.s.c., the national security council, led by h.r. mcmaster to oversee the whole process. >> we have said mattis and nicholson believe more u.s. troops to afghanistan is a good idea. do you share that belief? >> well, i think a few more-- a few thousand or even 10,000 more u.s. troops-- >> 10,000 more. >> i'm saying that i think that hypothetically, an increase on that scale. let's say, for example, a doubling of u.s. troops. there are some 8500 there now-- can help sustain the current security stalemate. but i don't believe that troops alone will actually be decisive in the end. troops alone can't win this war. troops alone will not remove the stalemate. the stalemate fundamentally rests on the political side of the equation.
so alongside any military surge, the addition of any number of u.s. troops, i'll be very interested to hear the administration's ambitions in terms of how they're going to deal with the politics. >> well, explain what the challenges are there for the politics in afghanistan. >> well, i look at this as a three-part equation on the political side. so first of all, inside the afghan government itself, here you have zero-sum politics among the different national players. you have a high level of corruption. you have the patronage network. you have a long period of time where you've actually had stalemate from the central government itself. second, you have stalemate between afghanistan and its neighboring states, most prominantly pack starng but not just pakistan. we only have to look at the map and see the geographic equation here, which includes iran to the west, central asia, and russia to the north, and beyond to the northeast, china and further to the east, india. so this is a very complex
regional diplomatic equation. all those players i've just mention individual some impact on what happens inside afghanistan. and then, ultimately, to bring this war to a conclusion, a political end-- which the military equation should be in support of-- it involves politics between the afghan government and the taliban, the opponent. and so on all three of these fronts-- inside kabul initiate region, and between the government and the insurgents-- there's a real need for a political surge. >> among those neighbors, pakistan, obviously, looms very large in afghanistan, and provide a consistent safe haven for the taliban that are waging this massive insurgency in the country. how can the u.s. get pakistan to help us in that fight? >> well, first of all, i i think you have to place our requirements, our demands on pakistan in this part of the arena-- that is, their support for the taliban-- in the context of our other interests in
pakistan. and we actually have several interests in pakistan, which i think surpass our interest in dealing with the afghan taliban. i would label pakistan's internal stability itself. here you have more than 180 million pakistanis in a country where you have not just the afghan taliban but the pakistani taliban, remnants of al qaeda, and other regional terrorist groups, all of which threaten the stability of the state. >> a nuclear-powered state. >> and a state which has the fastest growing, the fastest expanding nuclear arsenal in the world. so that very dangerous cocktail of terrorists, extremists, and nuclear weapons is actually probably more of a vital national interest to us than pakistan's support for the afghan taliban. so there's a large array of complex interests here which are at play. >> even if the administration articulates a strategy, do you think that this administration can execute that strategy well, i think right now, they're working with a handicap.
and that is while the national security council itself, those who set strategy and over-watch the strategy, is largely in place. the implementers of the strategy are largely not in place because they have a large number of vacancies among those officials who are yet to be nominated and confirmed by the senate, especially in the defense department and the state department. >> former ambassador douglas lute, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: the future of coal is very much at the center of debate right now when it comes to the politics and business of energy. whatever you may think about those questions, the u.s. still uses a lot of coal. about 30% of our electricity is generated by it. for some, the holy grail is new technology that can capture some of coal's worst problems with greenhouse gases.
miles o'brien reports on the largest facility trying to do so, it's part of our weekly series on the "leading edge" of science and technology. >> reporter: at the w.a. parish power plant southwest of houston, they are piling up coal, getting ready for another long, hot, aggressively air- conditioned summer. one of the largest fossil fuel power plants in the country, parish can generate about one-fifth of the city's electricity, using coal- and gas-fired turbines. and, it is leading the nation down a promising, yet problematic path. here, they are trying to make "clean coal" more than a political slogan. mauricio gutierrez is c.e.o. of nrg, owner of the plant. >> we built the world's largest carbon capture system on an existing coal-fired power plant. it is the first commercial-scale facility of this kind in the united states. >> reporter: they are capturing
and storing carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that is the main driver of global warming. this is prompting some unexpected support from members of the trump administration, many of them climate change deniers. listen to energy secretary rick perry at the ceremonial opening in april: >> i think the solutions to many of the challenges that we have in the world today are displayed behind me. >> reporter: the same rick perry who wrote a book calling climate scientists members of a "secular carbon cult" who manipulate data, and climate science a "contrived, phony mess." but not here. >> it shows we don't have to pit the environment on one side, weighing-- and the economy on the other side. we can, and we will, be good stewards of both. >> reporter: the steward of this project for nrg is david greeson, the vice president of development. >> we're interested in doing more carbon capture as a part of
our overall sustainable energy future plan, and so, we're going to see how this one works. >> reporter: they call the billion dollar carbon capture and storage system "petra nova." nrg built it in partnership with the japanese oil company jx nippon, using a $190 million grant from the department of energy, doled out during the obama administration. >> so we're capturing about 200 tons of c.o.-2 per hour. on an annual basis, that's about 1.6 million tons per year. that's the equivalent of 350,000 cars being taken off the road. >> reporter: while it may be the world's largest carbon capture facility, it is still only removing about 10% of the c.o.-2 created by the four coal-fired generators here. the only obstacle to capturing more is money. >> we're just now reaching the point where this technology is mature enough to be considered for rollout to the broad coal-
fired fleet in the united states and around the world. >> reporter: here's how it works. flue gas, with carbon dioxide in it, flows through a duct to the carbon capture facility. one vessel contains amine, an ammonia-based chemical in liquid form. it naturally binds with carbon dioxide. with the carbon now in solution, the liquid goes to another vessel where it is heated up. as that happens, the process is reversed and the c.o.-2 pops out as a gas. it is captured, and after it is compressed, ready for underground storage. >> i think petra nova is a shining example of what technology offers, and so as an engineer, i'm very enthusiastic about it. i think it's very exciting. >> reporter: michael webber is deputy director of the energy institute at the university of texas at austin. he says the energy sector is watching this project very closely. >> we're getting a lot of scrutiny because people want to
know if carbon capture and sequestration will work. and there are examples around the nation, around the world, where it hasn't really quite come together the way people want. it's really expensive and hard to do, so you wouldn't do it unless you had to, or it's in your economic favor to do so. >> reporter: and a coincidence of geography has made that possible here. the c.o.-2 from the petra nova facility is sent 80 miles to the southwest, to the west ranch oil field. here, the gas is as good as gold-- black gold, texas tea. >> that was the hope, if you marry up a partnership between a c.o.-2 emitter where they can capture the c.o.-2 and reduce their c.o.-2 emissions. but then that c.o.-2 can be used to increase oil production. that's really a win-win. >> reporter: jill fisk is a senior vice president for hilcorp, the current operator of this oilfield, which first opened in the 1930s. at its peak in the '70s, it produced 50,000 barrels of oil a day. today, it's down to less than
300 barrels a day. normally, it would be time to cap the wells here. but instead, they're drilling new ones, getting ready to pump a lot more oil by injecting carbon dioxide deep underground. liquid c.o.-2 has been used to liberate the most stubborn oil for about 40 years. >> essentially what's happening is, the oil is stuck to rock, if you can imagine that. the c.o.-2 is injected, it dissolves into that oil that's stuck to the rock, loosens up the oil, lightens it up so it can then flow toward a producer and produce additional oil. at west ranch, we're expecting to recover an additional 60 million barrels of oil that would otherwise be left in the ground and be unrecoverable, without a project of this type. >> reporter: right now, with oil prices so low, petra nova is breaking even, but over the next decade, they expect to make a tidy profit capturing and burying carbon dioxide. but, doesn't this just transfer
greenhouse gas emissions from a power plant smokestack to automobile tailpipes? >> so i think that demand for oil is either going to be met by foreign oil that the united states has to purchase, or by our own production that we're able to supply. so this project is breathing new life into a field in the u.s. to help supply that demand for oil. >> reporter: but how can we be certain buried c.o.-2 will stay underground? scientists from the university of texas are running tests at 22 monitoring wells at west ranch, getting baseline data so they will know later if the injected c.o.-2 triggers some unintended consequences, like earthquakes or the release of deep dwelling salt water, minerals, or chemicals. at this test site in austin, they are finding new ways to monitor the buried c.o.-2. >> you ready to start? >> reporter: they pump the gas into groundwater to simulate leaks. they use a sensor that measures
light. it is coated with a polymer that thins when it reacts with c.o.-2. if there's any trouble, the sensor detects more light, and an alarm is transmitted automatically. geologist sue hovorka leads this effort. >> we need to get good enough to provide value to the atmosphere, and we need to avoid unacceptable consequences. >> reporter: hovorka analyzes deep rock core samples stored in a cavernous warehouse at the bureau of economic geology in austin. she says there are ample places to bury carbon dioxide produced by all types of fossil fuel power plants, not just coal burners. that would be a monumental step toward addressing climate change. >> if consumers want to use coal and want to reduce the carbon from that, the system to do that is ready to go. they have to pay for it. it's not outrageous. it's totally possible, but it's not free. >> reporter: up until now, "clean coal" has been nothing more than a marketing myth.
it could become a reality-- at no small cost-- but at a small fraction of the toll if the industry does nothing to stop global warming. in richmond, texas, i'm miles o'brien for the pbs newshour. >> woodruff: and as miles said, costs are just one of the questions about whether this model could be replicated more widely. miles joins me now from boston. so, miles, tell us more about why-- soy this is the first plant of its kind. what are the challenges in trying to replicate this somewhere else and getting the same results? >> well, judy, the secret sauce of this one, according to the innovators behind it, is they reduced the cost of creating the carbon capture. when i say "cost," the cost in power. normally, what the assumption is, that it reduces the output of any given power plant by as much as 30% in order to run the carbon capture system.
what they did in this case was they decided not to use the actual turbines which light the lights that i'm using right now, but rather a separate co-generation plant air, smaller power plant on sight that can be run much more efficiently. and they it's costing them about 15% of the power-generating capacity of that plant. so that's a big hurdle that they've gotten over. now, 15% is still a big number, and unless you have some commodity or the co-2 has some value, the business model doesn't add up just yet. >> woodruff: and you were telling us, miles, that there are also some physical challenges as well. >> well, being 80 miles near an old oil field that could use that co-2 to capture and recover a lot of stubborn oil from the ground makes it all work. the question is could a fossil fuel plant of any kind that's a long way away from an oil field, could it avail itself of this kind of transaction? and co-2 can be pumped in pipelines for an indefinite amount of distance as long as
you recompress every now and then, sort of have a booster system in. but, again, that's going to be a significant cost. it is not an insurmountable thing technologically and it could be done. we already have significant co-2 pipelines in the oil sector. you could extend it out if you were determined to do this. >> woodruff: just quickly, you were also saying other practical limits. >> well, yeah. it's-- the limits on this are-- there are some concerns, for example, about putting co-2 in seismically active places, for example. you wouldn't want to put-- bury co-2 underneath san francisco, for example. but having said all that, when you consider all the places that it can be stored, the experts tell me, we have enough storage capacity underneath the continental united states to last about 900 years of co-2 production. so it's just a question of societal priorities and whether we want to pay a little more for power to get the carbon monoxide
out. >> woodruff: miles o'brien, thanks very much. >> you're >> woodruff: now, a new national voice for poetry. in a tradition dating back to 1937, the library of congress selects a prominent writer to serve as the country's poet laureate for terms that have ranged from one to three years. the goal, according to the library: "to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry." the new laureate was revealed today, and jeffrey brown had a chance to talk with her earlier this week. >> brown: empathy and self- awareness through language. that is the creed that comes through in talking with 45 year old tracy k. smith-- writer, teacher, spouse and mother of three, including 4-year-old twins-- and now taking on a very
public role as the nation's poet laureate. >> this is a position that allows me to profess publicly all that i really hold true privately, that if we can listen actively enough, if we can put enough pressure on ourselves and our thought process, language can be a real tool of revelation. i love being able to do that with my students and my little seminars and i love the idea that maybe there's a way that this position allows me to do that with my fellow americans. >> brown: smith is author of three books of poetry, including the pulitzer-prize winning "life on mars," in part an elegy for her father, who served in the air force before leaving to work on the hubble telescope. in her 2015 memoir, titled "ordinary light," she writes of growing up in a tight-knit middle-class family in northern california, a coming-of-age tale exploring love and loss, race
and faith-- themes that suffuse her poetry. >> i wasn't even aware that that's what i was doing until after my last book of poems came out and i realized, wow, these poems are thinking about space, but they're also searching for god, in a way. i think it comes back to that sense that i grew up with, that there is something large that we can cleave to, if we choose to. i wanted to figure out if there was a way that the artist in me and the 21st century academic in me could find something like a plausible version of god or a plausible version of the afterlife that i'd be willing to claim publicly. and i think that language facilitated that. >> brown: another big area that you're often exploring is race. and in your memoir, you talk explicitly about comparing your
upbringing to your parents and your grandparents. the differences there, but also things that have remained. >> a lot of my awareness of race had imprinted by my parents, who grew up in the segregated south. a lot of that was shaped of sadness and a sense of anxiety on my part, that made me not want to talk about it. there were a lot of silences that i was drawn to explore in writing, about that tie that i had never felt capable of bringing into speech when i was growing up. >> brown: you were of a as i get older, i realize the history that felt so ancient when i was growing up is so close to us, and present in ways that i had never imagined, or didn't want to let myself imagine when i was a child. so writing about it, i think, is a way of reckoning with what is yet to be resolved about the present moment, and about how we
are willing to love each other, even though we look different from one another. >> brown: smith has been a professor at princeton since 2005 and now heads its creative writing program, teaching small seminars to young poets in the making. here especially, she says, the emphasis is on how we use language. >> i want them to start thinking that a poem isn't just an expression of all these things that you're feeling, but it's a set of choices that you're making in language. so, every description, every question, every statement, every turn is a choice that opens off certain possibilities. and you don't always think about that when you're sitting down to write in the flush of emotion. but thinking about-- >> brown: i mean, the feelings are part of it, right? >> the feelings are part of it. >> brown: and the expression is part of it. but you're saying, the language choices-- >> yeah, the language can help
you get some traction in those feelings. "one of the women greeted me. i love you, she said. she didn't know me, but i believed her, and a terrible new ache rolled over in my chest." >> brown: to hear some of her language, smith read part of a new poem, titled "wade in the water." >> "i love you, throughout the performance, in every handclap, every stomp. i love you in the rusted iron chains someone was made to drag until love let them be unclasped and left empty in the center of the ring. >> brown: now tracy k. smith will have a new voice-- a very public national platform, to reach new audiences. if you think about the tumultuous time we're in, technologically, all kinds of changes around us, the divisions politically at this moment, it seems like an appropriate moment to say, why poetry? why bother?
why bother being a poet? >> i will say that, a poem allows or requires you to submit to something else. often-- >> brown: "submit" means? >> that's one of the things we don't want to do, say, "okay, i'm not the expert. you're the expert. let me listen. let me respond to something that's completely counterintuitive for me, that pulls me toward a different sense of what's valuable." i think when we do that with a work of art, we're learning how to do that in real time with other people. >> brown: does that mean even making us better citizens? >> i think so. poems remind us that someone is saying, "come here. this has happened to me. this is how it made me feel. this is who i am in the wake of this thing."
and we all have stories like that, and they're important to honor, and they're important also to say, maybe my story helps me listen and cherish this other person's story, too. >> brown: smith says a key goal for her as laureate will be to bring poetry into places where they're not often heard. for the pbs newshour, i'm jeffrey brown in princeton, new jersey. >> woodruff: online, you can watch tracy k. smith read two new poems. that's on "art beat" on our website at pbs.org/newshour. >> and some late-breaking news before we leave you tonight. there is word that the special counsel for the russia investigation, robert mueller, is expanding his investigation to consider whether president trump may have committed obstruction of justice. that is according to the "washingto"washington post" "wan post," citing unnamed officials. the report says the obstruction of justice probe began days
after the firing of f.b.i. director james comey. in response to the "post" story tonight, a spokesman for the president's legal team said in a statement-- and i quote-- "the f.b.i. leak of information regarding the president is outrageous, inexcusable, and illegal." and that is the newshour for tonight. on thursday, our "making sense" team takes a look at a visa program that's under the microscope because of its results and potential use by the trump family. i'm judy woodruff. join us online, and again right here tomorrow evening. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and we'll see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway. >> supported by the rockefeller foundation. promoting the wellbeing of humanity around the world, by building resilience and
inclusive economies. more at www.rockefellerfoundation.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and friends of the newshour. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
>> rose: welcome to the program. we begin this evening with politics and a look at attorney general jeff sessions' testimony to the senate intelligence committee today in washington. we talk to karoun demirjian of "the washington post." >> every time he answered a question about his contacts with russia, there was a caveat. he kept saying, i don't remember, i do not recall, i don't have any recollection of that, i ed my brain trying to think of something but i can't actually recall anything, and once when senator harris was questioning him he said, if i don't give you these cavias, you will accuse me later of being a liar, which is certainly a denial of things potentially coming up down the line. >> rose: we continue with secretary of treasure steven mnuchin talking about new efforts by the treasure department to change relations havinhaving to do