Coal-to-liquid: Boucher plan could benefit Southwest Virginia
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
— U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., is the latest lawmaker to introduce welcomed legislation aimed at promoting the use of coal-to-liquids technology.Boucher and U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., introduced federal legislation last week to promote the use of coal-to-liquids, a technology that enables the production of transportation fuels from coal — a process that could potentially reap rich benefits to the coal-producing counties of Southwest Virginia, as well as southern West Virginia.Boucher said coal liquefaction has been in use since World War II, and South Africa today uses the technology to produce approximately 40 percent of its transportation fuels. While in use in other parts of the world, the technology inexplicably hasn’t been widely deployed in the United States.By using domestic energy resources instead of imported petroleum to power cars and trucks in the United States, the legislation would allow officials to tap into one of our nation’s most abundant natural resources — coal.This is important because coal is a resource that is abundantly available across southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia.The legislation introduced by Shimkus and Boucher would enable the Department of Energy to enter into agreements with up to six coal liquefaction projects for the purpose of establishing price parameters, which will provide the projects with a federal price guarantee.Under the legislation, if the price of crude oil falls below an agreed upon price, or approximately $40 per barrel, the federal government would make a payment to the facility owner, thereby establishing a price floor for the facility’s product. However, if the price of crude oil were to rise above a certain ceiling, or upwards of today’s market price per barrel, the facility operator would be required to make payments to the federal government.“The escalation of gasoline prices has highlighted the need for our nation to obtain energy independence,” Boucher said last week. “By using one of our nation’s most abundant natural resources — coal — to produce transportation fuels, we can address fuel cost concerns, make our nation less reliant on imports from politically unstable regions of the world and simultaneously benefit our domestic coal industry.”We agree with Boucher, and we strongly support the coal-to-liquids technology legislation.This technology is not only another step forward in weaning our dependence on foreign oil and making our country more secure, but it also represents a potential boon to the coal-producing counties of Southwest Virginia and southern West Virginia.
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