WASHINGTON, June 17, 2007 (AFP) – A fiery debate has been rekindled in Washington as US lawmakers mull proposed incentives to produce diesel fuel from coal. “By using one of our nation’s most abundant natural resources, coal, to produce transportation fuels, we can address fuel cost concerns, make our nation less reliant on imports from politically unstable regions of the world and simultaneously benefit our domestic coal industry,” Boucher said. Backers of coal-based liquid fuels say they can help reduce US dependence on imported oil. Critics contend the use of coal in any form would lead to increased greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful environmental effects.
Synthetic motor fuel from coal has been around for decades, but interest has been growing as a result of the surge in petroleum prices. Some point to the experience in South Africa, which produces much of its transportation fuel from coal.
In the US Senate, a proposal to provide up to 10 billion dollars in loans for coal-to-liquid projects is gathering steam and may be attached to a wide-ranging energy bill, which would among other things mandate more ethanol production and increased fuel