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Senators Re-Introduce Coal-to-Liquids Legislation

US Senators Jim Bunning (R-KY) and Barack Obama (D-IL) have re-introduced a piece of legislation that would help create the infrastructure needed for large-scale production of Coal-to-Liquids (CTL) fuel in the US.

The proposed “Coal-To-Liquid Fuel Promotion Act of 2007” is based on the bill first introduced by Senators Bunning and Obama last spring and expands tax incentives, creates planning assistance, and develops Department of Defense support for a domestic CTL industry.

The Coal-to-Liquid Fuel Promotion Act of 2007 enables the Department of Energy to provide loan guarantees for construction and direct loans for the planning and permitting of CTL plants. Loan guarantees will encourage private investment and planning loans will help companies prepare a plant for construction.

This legislation also will expand investment tax credits and expensing provisions to include coal-to-liquids plants, extend the Fuel Excise Tax credit, and expand the credit for equipment used to capture and sequester carbon emissions.

Finally, the bill provides the Department of Defense the funding and authorization to purchase, test, and integrate these fuels into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and military fuel supplies.

The Senators also announced they will form the Senate Coal-to-Liquid Fuel Caucus to help drive the legislation forward.

Both Kentucky and Illinois have massive coal reserves. Obama also sponsored the just-introduced BioFuels Security Act of 2007 that would institute a 60 billion gallon Renewable Fuel Standard by 2030. (Earlier post.)


O. Horse Brown

Filling up a Honda Civic with CTL fuel makes driving it equivalent to driving a H3, from a global warming perspective.

It makes me think Obama isn't running for President, since this is a move that is good for only Illinois and Kentucky.

Antony DiGiovanni

Without carbon capture and sequestration, CTL can be nothing more than a short term bridge. Why spend hundreds of millions of dollars developing a technology that is just as bad for climate change as what it is meant to displace? Why not spend the hundreds of million of dollars developing a technology with lower emissions AND that gets the U.S. to use less oil from the Middle east AND employs Americans?

Being against the CTL proposal (as it is now) is not the "perfect being the enemy of the good" as netscrooge opined - using coal at all for anything is hardly perfect! Instead, going down the CTL road without addressing emissions ignores climate change issues for a singular focus on fears of terrorism.

One's position in this matter depends on what one thinks is the more pressing issue - climate change or U.S. oil imports funding terrorism. What compels my position is the simple fact that an American is less likely to be killed in a terrorist attack than they are to be struck by lighting; I am not afraid of terrorists and I live and work on Capitol Hill in Washington DC.

I say spend the money on a better solution - making oil irrelevant. Where would terrorists get their money then?


Curious about people’s thoughts about this. Greenhouse gases are pouring into the atmosphere at astonishing rates from like 750 million automobiles, some 700 refineries, a billion cows and their poop, industry, tens of thousand of landfills, cement plants, and the like. And thousand of coal-fired power plants worldwide. None of those things appear to be vanishing. But there’s only like one CTL plant in Africa, tiny compared to most oil refineries. A few more others CTL plants are on the books, but for all practical purposes, its not really there, or at least, its massively dwarfed by fossil fuels used in power generation. I think the US plans to build 150 more coal-fired power plants in coming years, and China is building coal power plants at the rate of like one a week, and India probably close to that rate, and will probably exceed the US rate. So comparatively speaking. CTL isn’t the threat we face, because it isn’t here, the real threat is whats right in front of us. Coal electricity is marching on big time, its everywhere, it actually exists commercially on a wide scale, it growing by staggering amounts. And if we get the chance to buy real electric cars in the next ten years or so, we’re going to be charging them up with coal, natural gas, or nuclear-made electricity. I think the academic debate is worth having on CTL legislation, but its more horrendously urgent to debate legislation to reverse the trends on what we use to generate electricity. CTL hasn’t caused climate change - - the rest of this stuff has, it exists, and its getting worse.

Ann Garrison

Is there any form of fossil fuel energy that doesn't waste enormous amounts of water? Any uranium enrichment plants or nuclear power plants that don't? Any mines that don't?

There's are obvious reasons why Obama's State of Illiinois has more coal-fired plants and more nuclear power plants than any in the country. They include the Mississippi River, the Great Lakes, the Ohio River, Peabody Coal on the Ohio River, in Southern Indiana and Northern Kentucky, and USEC, the one operating uranium enrichment plant in the U.S., (privatized by Bill Clinton in 1997), on the Kentucky side of the Ohio in Paducah.

I am still staggered by the surprise proposed homicide announced to the Hopi and Diné people of Big Mountain/Black Mesa on January 3rd: SURPRISE! 1) Peabody will reopen and expand the mine, 2) SURPRISE! Peabody and the Salt River Project will reopen the Mojave Generating Station, filthiest plant west of the Pecos for the past 40 years and add scrubbers, 3) SURPRISE! Peabody will rebuild and reopen the 108-mile coal slurry line that already wasted half of the desert aquifer, effortlessly replenished by desert storms each year, then effortlessly filtered through desert sand. Before Peabody Coal wasted 52 quadrillion gallons of the N aquifer, if I calculate correctly; now they want the C aquifer as well.

Peabody applied for 6000 square acre feet/yr. at Big Mountain/Black Mesa. Sithe Global applied for 4500 square acre feet/yr. at Desert Rock, also on the northwestern Navajo Nation, leaving 450 square acre feet for the natives.

I've heard vague murmurings that advance men for Coal-To-Liquid Tech--ans whose could these be but Peabody Coal's?--have an agreement with the Hopi Tribal Council, which the people of Big Mountain/Black Mesa are now at odds with, like the Diné Navajo of the northwestern Navajo Reservation.

I think the mining and coalwashing alone are gonna waste a whole lot of the water left, and though I;ve got no #s, I suspect that whatever comes next will too. Anyone out there got any #s on that? If so, I'd like to have them; I got onto this site in searach of #s about the water cost of CTF because I'm writing something for a newspaper about Peabody's SURPRISE! proposed homicide on January 3rd, and the CTF legislation introduced, again, with more tax breaks, on Big Mountain/Black Mesa.

Also, does this tech exist anywhere in real form yet? I'm not an engineer or a scientist. --A.G.

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