Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
Archive list of "E"- Notes newsletters

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September 2007

Mattea, Kennedy Stunned by Scope of Devastation
Organizing for a Better World
Injury, Insult, Insanity: Buffer Zone Rule Change
Mining Dams Check is DEP's New Top Priority
Your Work is Appreciated
Sludge Safety Project Meets with DEP
Citizen Input Made THE Difference in Sludge Safety Study
Yet Another Legal Victory Against Army Corps of Engineers!
Coal - to - Liquid: WV Public Energy Authoritys Plan for Your Future
Training to Listen, Listening to Tears of the Mountains
Surface Mine Board Rules to Allow Inaccurate Permit in Mingo County
Go Larry! CNN Profiles OVEC Board Member for Defending the Planet
Two New Books on Ravages of MTR
Faith In Action: Religious Community Engaging to End Mountaintop Removal
Teetering on the Edge - Is the Future of Coal in Question?
OVEC Works! Thank You!
Learning How to Work With the Media to Get Our Message Out
Boone Countys OVEC Team Really Taking Flight After Two Years
Getting the GIST of Grist
Every Action Counts! Residents Letters Result in Mining Site Inspection
King Coal, State Chamber of Commerce Say Environmental Groups Attacking WVs Economic Lynchpin
Let Us Be Very Clear: Mountaintop Removal Mining is NOT About Creating Jobs, Its About $$$$$
Attempt to Undermine OVEC Just Shows Its Importance
Interests of the Working Man: Citizen Groups Are Working to SAVE the Mountain State
Stover Cemetery Desecration Aided by State Agencys Repeated Inaction
Coalfield Delegation at the UN for Sake of the Mountains
What a Concept Government Of, By and For the People!
Farewell to Si Galperin, Champion of Clean Elections
Public Financing Would Mean Cheaper Elections
Global Warming / Climate Instability in the Mountain State
Feed Your Family, Support OVECs Work, Life Is Good!
Coal-to-Liquid is Nuts - Here Are Just A Few Reasons Why
Goodbye to Mitch, Writer and Friend
Miner Takes His Battle to West Virginia Supreme Court

For viewing the PDF version of the newsletter

Winds of Change Newsletter, September 2007     See sidebar for table of contents

Coal-to-Liquid is Nuts - Here Are Just A Few Reasons Why

Coal-to-liquids (CTL) is a technology that converts dry coal into a liquid fuel that could be used in place of diesel and jet fuels. The process proposed for use in the US would first use heat and pressure to gasify the coal, then cool the gas to form a liquid a highly energy-intensive process. Just a few facts:

D CTL produces nearly TWICE as much carbon dioxide as petroleum. As the League of Conservation Voters put it, CTL "turns a compact car into an SUV from a global warming perspective."

D Around 5 barrels of our precious fresh water resources are needed to produce each barrel of fuel.

D One ton of coal (2,000 pounds) produces only 2 barrels of fuel (84 gallons). It would take about three 20-ton coal trucks to carry the same number of barrels of fuel as a single oil tanker.

N Sharp increases in demand for coal will encourage mining companies to cut even more corners to produce coal quickly and cheaply meaning even less regard for the safety of workers, communities and the environment.

D CTL refineries use loads of energy. Proponents of CTL gloss over this fact and dont have hard figures on the energy conversion rate: That is, how much energy goes into creating CTL versus how much energy is yielded.

N Sasolburg, South Africa, has been the center of CTL production for years and is cited by supporters as an example of the commercial viability of the fuel. It also demonstrates the great costs borne by local citizens.

N Air samples taken in Sasolburg showed very high levels of benzene, which can lean to anemia and leukemia, and hydrogen sulfide, which is linked to respiratory problems; statistics indicate high rates of anemia, asthma and other respiratory problems in the communities near Sasolburg.

Local Impacts Mingo County, WV

The Mingo County Redevelopment Authority and Rentech, a Colorado based corporation, are planning a coal-to-liquid plant for Mingo County.

M Rentechs senior Vice President Richard Sheppard calls the project an "exciting opportunity for devastated coalfield communities." Has he thought about why they are devastated?

M Output is to be 20,000 barrels per day, with a start-up cost of $2 billion-3 billion dollars.

M Much of that cost is likely to be borne by citizens, both through direct subsidization and through tax benefits given to the corporation. Citizens, of course, would also bear the environmental costs of increased mining and the accompanying pollution and health problems.

M 60 percent of citizens in Mingo County rely solely on well water in their homes. The CTL supporters do not address the issues of the waste that the plant will produce or the health impacts to the community.

The Solutions Alternatives

C Burning the same amount of coal to produce electricity to power plug-in hybrids would replace twice as much oil without generating nearly as much greenhouse gas. But to end mountaintop removal, we must reduce our use of coal.

C Fortunately, plug-in hybrids could use truly renewable resources, including wind, solar, and hydroelectric power. Fuel cell vehicles may be marketable by 2010.

C Policies that promote public transportation, energy efficiency and conservation will help reduce our energy usage.

Take Action

B Write a letter to the editor.

B Write to your state and federal representatives and tell them how you think your tax dollars should be spent. As a group of national environmental organizations put it, "Every dollar invested in coal-to-liquids is a dollar unavailable for investment in efficient vehicles, improved transportation systems, smart growth and sustainably-made renewable fuels."

B Get organized! Talk to your friends and neighbors about your concerns and about what you envision for your community.

B Join the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition to work for justice in the coalfields and promote better policies for our future.


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