Liquid Coal – Temporarily Frozen

Liquid coal is back in the news (at least my news!). Via the excellent Grist, Jon Tester (D-Montana – think coal!) casts a principled vote to kill an amendment that would have “mandated” a certain amount of liquid coal be used as part of an omnibus energy package bill.

Panel rejects coal amendment

Thomas accused Tester and other Democrats of failing to act on their words of praise for transportation fuels made from coal. But Tester said he couldn’t support the amendment because it would have scuttled the entire bill to which it was attached.

Tester voted against the provision during a meeting of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to assemble an energy package. The legislation contains measures boosting biofuels, energy efficiency and research and development on carbon capture and storage technology.

Thomas’s amendment would have required 21 billion gallons of coal-based fuels to be used annually by 2022. The bill already had a provision mandating 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022. The amendment was defeated on a 12-11 party-line vote.

The Democratic and Republican heads of the Energy Committee had tried to prevent the coal-to-liquids issue from coming up during the panel’s meeting. They wanted to pass a bill out of committee easily and deal with contentious issues, including that one, during debate on the Senate floor

With such powerful friends, this amendment will not go away. Expect it to be brought back on to the senate floor when it leaves committee. The coal senators of Illinois, West Virginia, Kentucky and the mountain west love the money this will bring to their states. They can pretend to look away from all the devastating effects of coal mining, and the CO2 emissions, etc. by invoking “energy security”. I give you senator Craig Thomas (R-Coal):

“The bill we’re talking about of course does not include coal and the new opportunities to change the process for developing coal, which would not only enhance our security but it would also reduce and help with the global warming situation,” Thomas said. “I really think if we don’t deal with one of our most abundant resources then we fail to deal with energy security.”

Yes, using liquid coal will “reduce and help with the global warming situation”. I mean, can’t you at least come up with a plausible half-truth?

Liquid coal produces more CO2 than gasoline, so how will it help with the global warming situation? Seriously…

5 comments for “Liquid Coal – Temporarily Frozen

  1. Jay Dickson
    May 7, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    You have this right… see http://www.worc.org/Liquid_Coal_FS_4-06.pdf.

  2. Steve
    May 11, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    The best plans for liquid coal rely on nuclear power at the refinery. That said, liquid coal would be CLEANER than biodiesel or ethanol both which relay on carbon fuel inputs to process. The co2 can also be captured using new technology and put back in the ground. Liquid coal is an abundant clean burning fuel supply. We only have about 30 years left on the oil supply according to the world’s leading experts. There are other ways to fight global warming like raising the CAFE standards to 40mpg where they belong and putting an end to the SUV insanity that is a plague on our nation.

  3. Jay Dickson
    May 22, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    I’ve seen a lot of liquid coal scams but never with nukes thrown into the bargain.

    The problem is not that CO2 can’t be captured at the plants — it’s that it still comes out the tailpipe, too, so the best you could do for greenhouse gases with liquid coal over the lifecycle of the fuel is worse than petroleum fuels, even if you sequestered ALL the carbon at the plants. Biofuels are made from plants which take carbon OUT of the atmosphere. We have to have fuels that are way, way better than petroleum fuels. We can’t spend hundreds of billions of dollars building liquid coal plants which at best will make the problem worse, and at worst will be twice as bad as oil. You can’t be for liquid coal AND for doing something about global warming.