China Sees the Light, Drops Coal-To-Liquid Plans

Just the other week, China's government took a bold step when it announced that it was halting immediately its plans to build all but two of its proposed coal-to-liquids projects.  Its rationale: "environmental and economic concerns."

This is the same argument we here at the Sierra Club have been making for the past year about the 10 coal-to-liquid plants proposed in the U.S: Liquid coal simply makes no financial or environmental sense.

Liquid coal is a major distraction of capital and attention away from the challenge and opportunity ahead. Liquid coal would emit 10 percent more global warming pollution than gasoline, all at a time when we are wrestling with how to slow and reverse global warming.  It is also extremely wasteful -- taking 3.5 gallons of water to make just one gallon of fuel.   

But U.S. coal companies, never missing an opportunity to push their harmful product, are strongly advocating liquid coal as the answer to our oil addiction.

The fight over liquid coal is centered in Ohio where Baard Energy wants to build a massive $4 billion coal-to-liquids plant on 650 acres near Wellsville in eastern Ohio. The plant would consume five billion tons of coal to produce about 50,000 barrels a day of diesel and jet fuels. The production of those 50,000 daily barrels will require 5.4 million gallons of water every day.

If allowed to proceed, the plant would begin construction this year and be ready for full operation in 2012.

When the Chinese government is saying coal-to-liquids projects are too dirty for China, what does it say about the current state of affairs in the United States when our government is still considering approving such filthy projects?

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