The United States Senate sent a strong message today that turning coal into a liquid fuel should not be part of an energy plan for America’s future. Two amendments to the comprehensive energy bill now being considered in the Senate were defeated by significant margins. An amendment to establish a liquid coal mandate by Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) fell to a vote of 39 yes and 55 no; a Democratic compromise amendment by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) also lost with a final vote of 33 yes and 61 no.
The following is a statement from Martin Hayden, Vice President of Legislation for Earthjustice.
“Americans are relying upon Congress to look towards the future as it considers an energy package. The future that we all hope for is one with less carbon dioxide and other global warming pollution, less destruction to our mountains and streams, and less reliance upon fossil fuels and old technologies.
“Any energy plan that includes subsidies for liquid coal is not a plan that looks towards the future. Converting coal into liquid fuel is an expensive process that produces nearly twice as much global warming pollution per gallon of fuel as petroleum fuels. Moreover, even if taxpayers shelled out billions to sequester the carbon dioxide produced in manufacturing liquid coal, it would still produce more life cycle global warming pollution than the diesel fuel it replaces.
“But in addition to the obvious climate change concerns, a largely ignored fact in this debate is that more coal also means more mining. Coal mining has devastated the environment in many parts of the country, but nowhere more than in Appalachia. Over the last two decades, this destruction has accelerated. Already the most environmentally destructive mining practice, mountaintop removal mining, has permanently buried more than 1,200 miles of streams and flattened over 500,000 acres of previously lush, productive forested lands in the Appalachian Mountains.
“We commend the Senate for voting against liquid coal today and hope that as Congress considers plans for our energy future they look to clean, renewable and sustainable energy sources and look away from the dirty fossil fuels of our past.”