Alternative Transportation Fuels Part 1: Liquid Coal

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 18 Mar 2009 19:00:00 GMT

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) invites you to a briefing to examine the energy, environmental, economic, and national security issues associated with liquid transportation fuels derived from coal. Coal-based fuels were first developed almost 100 years ago. Germany used liquid coal fuels from the 1920’s until World War II and South Africa has had an active liquid coal industry since 1955. Desire to reduce dependence on foreign oil has driven interest in developing alternative transportation fuels including liquid coal in the United States, which has the largest known recoverable coal reserves of any country in the world. Liquid coal, however, raises significant questions about costs, benefits, and impacts in terms of energy security, climate change, land and water resources, and public health. Speakers for this event include:

  • James Katzer, PhD, Independent Consultant; Former Vice-President, Technology, Mobil Oil Corporation
  • Sasha Mackler, Research Director, National Commission on Energy Policy
  • Sarah Ladislaw, Fellow, Energy and National Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Matthew Wasson, PhD, Director of Programs, Appalachian Voices

The potential impacts of these fuels on U.S. and global greenhouse gas emissions have been a dominant concern. Unless the carbon dioxide emissions generated by the processing of these fuels can be permanently sequestered and stored, the greenhouse gas footprint of these fuels is estimated to be approximately twice that of conventional gasoline. Options to reduce life-cycle carbon emissions are being explored but are presently uncertain. How national security, climate change, and local environmental impacts should be weighed and integrated into public policy decisions regarding these fuels remains controversial and unclear.

This briefing will review these multiple issues to help guide a full and informed comparison of different policy options regarding alternative transportation fuels. Key questions to be addressed include:

  • How are liquid coal fuels produced? What are the factors driving and limiting their development?
  • What is the range and scale of impacts associated with the production and consumption of these fuels?
  • What are the energy, environmental, and national security consequences of developing these fuels?
  • How should different costs, benefits, and impacts be factored into federal policy decisions?

This briefing is free and open to the public. No RSVP required. For more information, contact Jan Mueller at (202) 662-1883 or

This briefing is the first in a series on alternative transportation fuels. Subsequent topics will include oil shale and tar sands, biofuels, and electricity. Details will be posted at as they become available.