Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Energy efficiency vs. liquefied coal: Which do you think Congress is subsidizing?

Energy efficiency vs. liquefied coal: Which do you think Congress is subsidizing? | Gristmill: The environmental news blog | Grist

This is from a May 29 article that I'm just getting around to posting. Clearly, the big push for liquified coal will vastly increase greenhouse gas emissions. Here's an excerpt:

So: an enormous expense, for miniscule energy security benefits and no carbon reductions. Sounds great, eh?

It sounds great to policymakers, though:

... the scale of proposed subsidies for coal could exceed those for any alternative fuel, including corn-based ethanol.

Among the proposed inducements winding through House and Senate committees: loan guarantees for six to 10 major coal-to-liquid plants, each likely to cost at least $3 billion; a tax credit of 51 cents for every gallon of coal-based fuel sold through 2020; automatic subsidies if oil prices drop below $40 a barrel; and permission for the Air Force to sign 25-year contracts for almost a billion gallons a year of coal-based jet fuel.

Why on earth would Congress do something so criminally stupid, so manifestly against the public interest? Why do they ever?

Coal industry lobbying has reached a fever pitch. The industry spent $6 million on federal lobbying in 2005 and 2006, three times what it spent each year from 2000 through 2004, according to calculations by

There's your civics lesson from today's NYT, kids:

  • Energy efficiency: a financial boon and a cheap, fast way to reduce carbon emissions. But: no big industry lobby. Thus: ignored by the feds.
  • CTL: a financial boondoggle with few energy security benefits that will aggravate climate change. But: big industry lobby. Thus: plied with billions in taxpayer subsidies.

Looking for something to chat about with your Congressional representative? This seems like a good place to start.

The funny thing is, by making a few painless changes in our daily lives--like replacing our light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, or driving cars that are more appropriate for the one or two passengers they usually contain--we could save so much energy we wouldn't need to liquify coal.

Graphic is from the New York Times.

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