Front Porch Blog

Roanoke Times editorials express distress about subsidies for coal-to-liquid

No sound way to turn coal into liquid gold
By Marquita K. Hill

I am beyond disappointed in Rep. Rick Boucher’s total embrace of the coal industry (June 5 editorial, “Billion-dollar boondoggle”).

Coal-to-liquid oil technology is expensive and harmful to the environment. Even if coal liquefaction could be environmentally justified, mountaintop removal mining to obtain that coal is enormously destructive of whole ecosystems, not to mention its negative impact on human lives.

If coal companies truly want to safely sequester carbon dioxide, let it be carbon dioxide produced by coal gasification technology, i.e., gasification to produce electricity, not liquefaction to produce oil.

And if coal companies have truly developed a sense of social responsibility, let them abandon radical strip mining and emphasize underground mining — taking great care to make it safe for their workers.

Liquefying coal to produce oil would not be economically viable without billions of dollars in subsidies. Clearly, that is what coal companies want — government subsidies.

Boucher’s mind is doubtless beyond changing. So, let’s contact Sens. Jim Webb and John Warner. Strongly urge them to oppose converting coal to liquid fuels.

Boucher’s bill would cause tremendous harm
By Brad Wood

Rep. Rick Boucher is drafting a bill to subsidize the coal industry’s scheme to construct plants that will convert coal into gasoline.

The subsidization of coal gasification during a worldwide global warming crisis is undiplomatic and irresponsible. Burning coal gas emits twice as much carbon into the atmosphere as diesel fuel, and even worse pollution is created during the gasification process.

Despite the “green” rhetoric coming from the coal industry, there is no such thing as clean coal. Even if carbon can one day be sequestered to the center of the Earth, extracting the coal will remain extremely detrimental to the environment.

With mountaintop removal mining (“stripping”), the cheapest and most harmful method of extraction, coal companies simply blow up the land and scoop out the coal from the ruins.

Mountaintop removal has transformed 500 miles of mountaintops to moonscapes (it takes 100 years for an inch of soil to return to a stripped site) and has buried more than 1,000 miles of streams in central Appalachia.

By bowing to King Coal and Mammon, Boucher and others will further devastate our tormented environment.

Instead of giving the hogs a second helping, he should be drafting a bill to assist the establishment of renewable energy industries.





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