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Chevron Gives Up On Coal to Liquid Fuel

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View Brian Smith's blog posts
28 January 2011, 4:56 PM
Three coal mines for sale

Finally admitting the unprofitably of turning coal into motor fuel, Chevron announced on Friday that it is getting out of the business.

Chevron will sell off three coal mines in Alabama, New Mexico and Wyoming. Together, those mines produced 10 million tons of coal in 2009.

The company sees the process as "10 to 15 years in the future" and made a strategic decision to focus on operations other than mining.

The process of turning coal into motor fuel involves heating coal to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and mixing it with water to produce a gas, then converting the gas into diesel fuel.

The Washington Post has editorialized, “To wean the U.S. off of just one million barrels of the 21 million barrels of crude oil consumed daily, an estimated 120 million tons of coal would need to be mined each year. The process requires vast amounts of water, particularly a concern in the parched West. And the price of a plant is estimated at $4 billion.”

Not only is using coal to power automobiles and trucks not profitable, the climate pollution created by such fuels is horrific. On average, liquid coal CO2 emissions are twice as high as emissions from conventional petroleum-derived fuels.

As environmentalists are fond of saying, “Liquid coal can turn any hybrid Prius into a Hummer.”

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