Lawmakers Push for Big Subsidies for Coal Process

The New York Times carries his story and explores the pros and cons.

[..] The political momentum to subsidize coal fuels is in odd juxtaposition to simultaneous efforts by Democrats to draft global-warming bills that would place new restrictions on coal-fired electric power plants.

The move reflects a tension, which many lawmakers gloss over, between slowing global warming and reducing dependence on foreign oil.

Many analysts say the huge coal reserves of the United States could indeed provide a substitute for foreign oil.

The technology to convert coal into liquid fuel is well-established, and the fuel can be used in conventional diesel cars and trucks, as well as jet engines, boats and ships. Industry executives contend that the fuels can compete against gasoline if oil prices are about $50 a barrel or higher.

But coal-to-liquid fuels produce almost twice the volume of greenhouse gases as ordinary diesel. In addition to the carbon dioxide emitted while using the fuel, the production process creates almost a ton of carbon dioxide for every barrel of liquid fuel.

Coal industry executives insist their fuel can actually be cleaner than oil, because they would capture the gas produced as the liquid fuel is being made and store it underground. Some could be injected into oil fields to push oil to the surface.

Several aspiring coal-to-liquid companies say that they would reduce greenhouse emissions even further by using renewable fuels for part of the process. But none of that has been done at commercial volumes, and many analysts say the economic issues are far from settled.[..]

May 29, 2007 | 1 Comment »

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1 Comment / 1 Comment

  1. The bias of the authors of this article shows through from the very beginning to the very end. When they speak of Congressional types conisdering the coal process, they speak of intense lobbying by the coal industry. When media outlets like the NY Times write about attempts to restrict oil drilling in the US or attempts to impose other restrictions on the energy industry, they do not speak of the lobbying done by the environmental groups. The environmental groups are far more powerful and wield far more influence than the coal or oil industry do. In order to have accurate reporting, the NY Times and other media outlets should discuss the “intense lobbying” done by environmental groups such as Greenpeace and the Sierra Club.

    As for pros and cons, there are a number of pros to tapping into our vast coal reserves. There really are no negatives. At least the negatives are not enough that it should prevent us from doing it.

    There are pros and cons from the perspective of Congressional types. From the point of view of Congressional persons the cons of offering subsidies to the coal industry are as follows: 1.) The environmnetal groups and their lobbies have more money at their disposal than the energy industry does. A Congressional person has a much better chance of enriching himself or herself if they side with the environmentalists than they do if they side with the energy industry. 2.) The environmentalists are media darlings. Their toadys in the media will protect them pretty much no matter what. A Congressional person who sides with the environmentalist, all else being equal, will get more favorable media coverage than someone who sides with the energy industry. This is especially helpful to a Congressional person who is involved in corrput dealings. The media can sweep allegations against the “green” candidate under the rug whereas they will focus a spot light on the “industry candidate.”

    Now for the pros, from the point of view of a Congressional person, to offering subsidies to the coal industry. 1.) The coal industry offers real jobs to real people. If a Congressman can get things for the people in his or her district, they are more likely to get re elected. The environmentalists, while they can help the bottom line of a Congressman, cannot help the people who a Congress person represents. By siding with the Coal industry, a Congress person will be able to show how they actually helped their district at campaign time. 2.) If we do not do something to lessen our dependence on foreign energy very soon, even the American elites will be affected very soon and they will lose their place in the world order. For an interdependent world system to work, one part cannot be overly dependent on another. By siding with the coal industry, a Congress person can show the people in their district how they actively worked to strengthen America’s place in the world.

    The NY Times speaks of the lobbying done by the coal industry as though it is done in a vacum. This is not so. Without this “intense lobbying” the coal and the oil industry oculd never survive. The environmentalists who are their bitter enemies would destroy them. Of course if it were up to the NY Times and other like minded outlets the coal and oil industries would twist helplessly in the wind while their friends in the environmental movement destroy them.

    Finally an interesting study would be to find out where these environmentalists are receiving much of their funding. I bet if it were studied closely much of their support comes from places like Russia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Mexican oil interests. I’m not holding my breath waiting for the NY Times or other like minded news media types to investigate this. After all, they are practically in bed with the previously mentioned countries.

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