Congress weighs coal fuels, carbon questions linger – Apr. 23, 2007
The technology, developed in coal-rich Germany in the 1920s and used heavily by the Nazis in World War II, involves partly burning coal to turn it into a gas, then using a catalyst, usually a metal, to make it a liquid.
The basic premise of liquid coal (using the wonderful Fischer-Tropsch Reaction) is that “plentiful and easily available” coal is converted into diesel that can be used for automobiles. Liquid coal is yet another wonderful distraction in the quest for clean energy sources.
The attraction of using a plentiful domestic energy source is obvious. It would help cut our reliance on oil, about a quarter of which comes from the Middle East and Venezuela.
It also keeps money stateside, flowing to coal miners instead of countries with links to terrorists, which explains why the coalition’s members include several labor unions.
You mean, you willl do this to every coal mining town just so you don’t have to increase fuel efficiency by 25% and avoid “terrorist” oil? Jeez, and this casual assumption of “if we don’t buy their oil, terrorism will decrease”. Patriotism and blatant fear mongering can be used to sell anything, apparently. Coal mining is one of the most destructive and harmful operations you can imagine. Here’s a short summary (LINK)
It is difficult to explain the scope and impact of mountain top removal to people who have not seen it. Some sites cover three and four thousand acres. Millions of cubic feet of land are blasted away by explosive charge to get at the thin seams of coal underneath the mountain tops. Trees, rocks, soil-in short, everything but the coal-is considered “overburden.” Land is devastated, and afterwards the ground must be compacted so hard to stabilize it that nothing but scrub grasses will grow. Rains rush off the denuded mountain tops at an alarming rate.
Of course, like all other carbon rich fuel sources, carbon sequestration remains a must for any possibility that we can see a decrease in carbon emissions coupled to an increase in carbon fuel use.
Henry said that “carbon storage” – an untested technology where about half the carbon dioxide in coal is removed and injected underground – can make liquid coal so that it emits 60 percent less carbon dioxide than gasoline.
“This statement is total garbage,” said Pete Altman, coal campaign director at the National Environmental Trust, saying the study Henry was referring to compared a hybrid diesel engine to a gasoline engine
So we’re willing to go to greatly increased carbon emissions, devastated country side, increased water pollution, air pollution, mining deaths, etc. just so we don’t increase fuel efficiency by 25%? Wow, priorities!!
The bill is expected to make it to the Senate floor in the next few weeks, and both Democrat and Republican staffers say a Republican sponsored amendment allowing for liquid coal is likely.
Other bills provide loan guarantees for companies building coal-to-liquid plants, which typically cost $3 billion to $5 billion apiece, as well as guaranteed price support if oil falls below $40 a barrel.
It seems clear the industry needs government help to succeed. Lawmakers have to decide if they are willing to fund a fuel that appears to do little to cut greenhouse gases.
I am sure lawmakers will make it happen as long as their lobbyists want to make it happen, if it means subsidies, relaxation of pollution rules, and other such shenanigans, so be it.
Note: the blog Environmental Action follows the liquid coal story very closely and had a post on this very article. Reading this blog, you will find that the great savior Barack Obama is also a liquid coal acolyte (It’s that whole midwestern pandering to coal and ethanol!)