Coal to Liquid Technology: burning America's future

The idea of converting coal to liquid fuel (known as coal-to-liquids or CTL) is not new, you can go here to the Department of Energy website to read to history of coal-to-liquid technology.

The United States hasn’t placed much emphasis on coal to liquids in the past, due to our heavy reliance on petroleum products for transportation fuels. But as oil prices climb, along with gas prices at the pump, the idea of making motor fuels out of domestic coal has been advocated as a solution to our dependence on foreign sources of energy.

Beyond the obvious implications of increased coal mining and hazardous pollution that would result from a coal-to-liquids scheme, using liquid coal as a transportation fuel would nearly double the amount of global warming pollution per gallon of fuel compared to petroleum.

At a time when the world’s leading scientists say we need to cut our emissions by at least 80 percent to curtail destructive climate change, the idea of nearly doubling global warming pollution from liquid coal fuels ought to be tossed aside as a no-brainer.

Furthermore, as NRDC points out, “it would be the height of folly to invest in just another technology that drives us further down the path to dependency on carbon fuels.”

But the coal industry is currently lobbying for a huge funding increase for liquid coal projects. The National Mining Association and its coal industry constituents have launched a front group called the “Coal to Liquids Coalition” to lobby Congress and “educate” the public about coal’s virtues for our car-dependent culture.


Watch the spoof ad that Mark Fiore and NRDC produced about liquid coal here.

Want to do more?

Check out our section on how you can fight "clean coal" in your community and online.

If not coal, then what?

Check out "There is a Better Way" on how renewable energy technology can power America.