Charley called up my office to ask about my position on coal-to-liquid technology and efforts in the Senate to promote it. Let me lay it out for you here in person:
I’m against it. Strongly.
Coal-to-liquid technology is a step backward in our fight to control greenhouse gasses. With CTL, there are actually two streams of carbon emission exhausts, at the production plant producing the liquid and from the vehicle burning the liquid as fuel. The total “well-to-wheels” emission is therefore much higher from CTL than regular petroleum.
A study from Argonne National Laboratory, a research arm of the Department of Energy, shows that every gallon of liquid fuel from coal produces as much as 2.5 times the global warming emissions as every gallon of gasoline or diesel fuel from crude oil. Even if we use carbon sequestration at the production plant, CTL emissions are still 17-25% higher.
This is just the wrong way to go. Our climate crisis is growing ever more urgent, and putting federal resources into pathways that make the problem worse is not a good option. We were not elected to the majority last fall just to do things a little better than Republicans; we were elected to actually fix these issues and go in a bold new direction. As I said in a speech last week:
We weren’t elected to be like Republican Congresses of the past, only a little more progressive. No — if we merely tinker around the edges of energy policy or climate change, or write an energy bill indistinguishable from the ones we criticized Republicans for passing–then we have not earned our majority.
The energy bill the last Congress passed was a hollow exercise masquerading as a new direction while giving the majority of the spoils to the same old special interests. It had no guiding national goal, no tough decisions, no change in priorities–just a collection of logrolling, back-scratching subsidies for any industry with the clout to get a seat at the table and a share of the pork.
There’s no reason why we shouldn’t take more effective action on global warming that will also reduce our dependence on foreign oil. We can raise CAFE standards in an aggressive way. We can require that 20% of our energy comes from renewable sources by 2020. We can encourage efficiency and conservation in a myriad ways. All of these will be effective on reducing our dependence on oil and will help to halt the warming of our planet.
So-called “solutions” that take us in the wrong direction aren’t “solutions” at all.