Sunday, February 26, 2006

Homegrown Synthetic Diesel, Compliments of Montana


Tonight 60 Minutes and CBS News turned the spotlight on Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and his plan to use the Fischer-Tropsch process of gasification to convert his state's vast coal supply into a form of clean burning synthetic diesel which he believes would help wean the U.S. from its dependency on foreign oil.
In the 60 Minutes interview Schweitzer referred to foreign oil producers as "rats" and "dictators" but made little mention of domestic interests in the same field such as Vice President Dick Cheney who has spent years supporting Halliburton (a market leader in the energy sector) or US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, a former Chevron Executive who has a supertanker named in her honor.
Instead Schweitzer pushed his belief strip mining his state for its bountiful coal supply would help move world markets away from oil, and help the US regain control of its economy.
Until crude oil prices sink to around $25 a barrel again, he reasons, synthetic fuel will become not only cost effective, but highly profitable. He also believes the price of crude oil will not sink to $25 a barrel, at least not for any prolonged period of time.

It's true gasification of coal creates a very clean burning diesel fuel ready-made to be pumped into tanks for around a $1 a gallon (that's production costs) but it does nothing to foster a sense of moving beyond the centuries old practice of internal combustion for energy production and motion.
Not to mention the ugliness of strip-mining half of Montana...

2 comments:

JayD said...

There's a better way, and more problems with this approach -- go to northernplains.org for what 60 minutes didn't tell you about coal to diesel.

The Space Ace said...

Coal to diesel is nothing new, and neither are attempts to create a "synthetic fuel economy" in the US. But both rely on what I consider out-dated and flawed technologies.
I added your link to our Post and hope more people will take notice and get involved in changing our nation's future for the better.