The Senate crushed both the Republican and Democrat liquid coal amendments today. Quite a sight to see on C-Span — I hope you are all watching the Energy Bill debate online for these fleeting moments of wisdom.
First up, Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Jim Bunning (R-KY) offered an “amendment backed by the coal industry: a national coal-to-liquid fuels standard that reaches 6 billion gallons by 2022” [E&E Daily (subs. req’d)]. Their plan “would require a 20% reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional gasoline specifically.”
As the Democrats pointed out, though, comparing diesel from coal to gasoline makes no sense, unless you are trying to rig the life-cycle analysis in favor of coal. This amendment died when every Democrat and the greener Republicans voted against it.
Next up, Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Jon Tester (D-MT) offered a $10 billion proposal to “provide loans for carbon capture and storage equipment on coal-to-liquids plants.” Eligible plants “would have to capture and store at least 75% of their carbon dioxide emissions” and “must produce fuels with lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions that are 20% lower than equivalent conventional fuels.”
This would require biomass to be blended with the coal, so the target is achievable, though not easy. The high environmental bar frustrated the Republicans, who all voted against this amendment together with the greener Democrats.
And so partly by design and partly by accident, the liquid coal boondoggle died in the Senate. Just like the founding fathers would have wanted.