The front page of the New York Times has a good story on the issue of creating liquid fuel from coal. Many politicians–both Democratic and Republican–are pushing coal-to-fuel technology as a way of lessening “dependence” on foreign sources of energy.
The problems with coal-based liquid fuel are immense: the costs are astronomical, the greenhouse gas emissions are substantially higher than oil, and the technologies for efficient refinement are unproven.
Nevertheless, there is broad bipartisan support–particularly from Congressional representatives from coal producing states like Barack Obama–and many politicians are referring to coal liquidification when they speak of “alternative” fuels. Liquified coal may be an “alternative” but it certainly is not renewable and its environmental affects are likely problematic. This is especially troublesome as legislation winds its way through Congress which will give immense governmental subsidies to the coal industry.