Liquid Coal Called 'Waste of Money'

Is liquid coal the answer to America’s oil addiction? Some lawmakers think so, but critics say liquid coal is too expensive and more harmful to the environment than gasoline. John Ward, vice president of marketing and government affairs at Headwater, and Peter Altman, the National Environmental Trust’s coal campaign director, debated the issue on “Morning Call.”

Ward says that domestically produced coal-to-liquid fuels can help reduce the U.S.’ oil import bill. “These are not fuel additives like in ethanol. These are the products that go into the existing fleet of cars, trucks and buses,” said Ward.

While the coal industry says this is the best alternative for solving the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, environmentalists argue that coal is one of the leading greenhouse-gas emitters. “It is a waste of money and is not an economic way to develop fuel,” said Altman, who said that coal-to-liquid costs five to eight times more than typical fuels from a standard refinery. “Producing transportation fuel from coal is the most expensive and environmentally harmful method.”