Bela Lugosi’s got nothin’ on Big Coal, but the parallel is humorously appropriate when you consider blood sucking air pollution, global warming, mountaintop removal, strip mining, coal slurry ponds, acid rain, and such. From today’s Boston Globe Editorial No Subsidy for a Filthy Fuel”:
The United States has immense coal reserves — enough to make it the Saudi Arabia of this fossil fuel — so proposals for liquefied coal have become the unkillable Draculas of US energy policy.
I don’t think we’ve learned anything from decades of subsidizing Big Oil, in spite of Exxonmobil showing record profits that sound more like a GNP. And now we’re going to add Big Coal to the subsidy mix?
The coal industry wants help from Uncle Sam because liquefied coal is still far too costly to be competitive. A recent MIT study on coal estimated that it would cost $70 billion to build the plants needed to replace just 10 percent of US gasoline consumption. Bills before Congress would provide government-backed loans for plant construction, subsidy protection against drops in oil prices, and a long-term contract to supply the Air Force with the alternative fuel. Coal-state lawmakers, including Senator Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois, are pushing for the measures.
And here’s what nobody seems to know. Don’t be fueled by the term “clean coal”. Here’s one of the (many) rubs. (emphasis below mine):
All of this largess, though, would replace gasoline with a fuel that would generate about twice the carbon dioxide emissions of gasoline
No proven effective or efficient ($$) way to sequester (or bury) CO2 exists although there has been attempts to pipe it back into coal mines and oil wells. I don’t expect and hope not to see Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts on the hot side of global warming on this. The focus of this editorial is gasoline but the same could also be said about pipeline gas, home heating oil and the like.
But when it comes to replacing gasoline, the government should be subsidizing an alternative like cellulosic ethanol, which emits 90 percent less carbon dioxide than gasoline — and not liquefied coal, which would just speed the warming of the planet.
…or wind or solar or efficiency or conservation but they’ve got the right idea.