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Given his way, Rep. Nick Rahall says he wants to move American motorists from the gas pump to the coal pump.

The Register-Herald: July 13, 2006-- Given his way, Rep. Nick Rahall says he wants to move American motorists from the gas pump to the coal pump.

In essence, that’s the thrust of the proposed Coal-to-Liquid Energy Act of 2006 he offered Thursday as a means of expanding the use of coal-based fuels.

One part of his bill would amend the 2005 act so that commercial coal liquefaction facilities can leverage money from existing federal energy project loan programs.

Another would set up a loan program within the Department of Energy to commercialize coal-to-liquid facilities.

“While other industrialized countries have embraced weaning themselves off imported oil by commercializing coal-to-liquid fuel technologies for transportation, the United States has lagged behind,” he said. “My bill aims to jump-start a coal-to-liquid industry for West Virginia and America and ensure its long-term viability.”

Last year, Gov. Joe Manchin announced his own initiative to launch an alternate fuels industry by using vast coal reserves in West Virginia.

Rahall, D-W.Va., said he sees a unique window of opportunity, given the soaring oil prices, increased consumption, and instability in oil-producing regions.

But past experiences have merely inspired short-term measures that only lent temporary relief, he said.

“If our nation will simply take the long view, and make the necessary investments in coal-to-liquids now, we can cushion the blow of future fuel cost spikes and valleys that inflict economic pain on working families.”

Rahall’s proposal would also empower the energy secretary to buy coal-to-liquid fuels for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. It also would extend through 2020 the availability of a relatively new federal fuel excise tax credit for coal-to-liquid transportation fuels.

For more than half a century, he said, South Africa has used liquefied coal, and its Sasol facilities provide 30 percent of that nation’s liquid fuel requirements.

In a move to meet its burgeoning demand, Rahall noted, China is aggressively pursuing the same technology.

“Other countries have realized the value of coal in answering their transportation fuel needs,” he said. “It’s time the U.S. caught on. West Virginia coal is ready and able to address America’s energy challenges.”

As reported by:

Mannix Porterfield
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