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And you thought corn ethanol was bad

You know how in a horror movie, everyone cringes in their seats while the protagonists, in opposition to all fair warnings and plain old common sense, march blithely toward whatever grisly fate awaits them? This is kind of like that.

Prodded by intense lobbying from the coal industry, lawmakers from coal states are proposing that taxpayers guarantee billions of dollars in construction loans for coal-to-liquid production plants, guarantee minimum prices for the new fuel, and guarantee big government purchases for the next 25 years…

Coal companies are hardly alone in asking taxpayers to underwrite alternative fuels in the name of energy independence and reduced global warming. But the scale of proposed subsidies for coal could exceed those for any alternative fuel, including corn-based ethanol.

The basic idea is to turn coal into gasoline as a means of reducing our dependence on foreign oil. The New York Times shows us how bad an idea this is in handy chart form:

coaltoliquid.gif

As the big red bar on the right shows, liquefied coal is more than twice as carbon intensive as petroleum. If we assume that technologically unproven and extremely expensive carbon sequestration technology is used to capture some of the excess emissions, coal is still roughly as bad as petroleum.

This folly is being pushed by a coalition of Democratic and Republican lawmakers. At the same time, various climate change bills are wending their way through Congress. If some version of both pieces of legislation are passed, we could find ourselves in a situation in which we are simultaneously taxing and subsidizing coal.

One of the deeper ironies of this boondoggle is that, if Congress is really concerned about energy security, coal-to-liquid isn’t even the best use of our coal reserves. We could simply use the coal to generate electricity for plug-in hybrids. This would displace twice as much foreign oil with a fraction of the carbon emissions.

There are really too many perversities here for me to catalog. Read the whole article. Then call your rep.

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This is a great synopsis of the Clean Power Plan released by the White House yesterday. What do we need to know? http://t.co/bUkPv2NQrE


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