Originally Posted by 67_250SE
It must be one of those rare moments of cosmic alignment. I find myself agreeing with you.
The technology has been in place since at least the 1920s.
The US has one of the largest known coal reserves in the world.
Benz is pushing diesel technology--they must know something.
Coal-to-oil isn't just about diesel. It can be refined into gasoline and jet fuel for around $1.00 per gallon. The CEO of JetBlue was just on Glenn Beck talking about it - he's been making visits to senators, trying to get legislation passed that would help protect the investments necessary to ensure our independence from foreign energy sources. He's not altruistic, necessarily - when gas goes up $0.10 / gallon, it costs him $50,000,000.
In short, if coal-to-oil is successful large scale (e.g here in the USA, as it has been in South Africa and elsewhere), it's likely that the Arabs could counter by ramping production through the roof and sinking the price of crude. This could leave coal-to-oil companies in the lurch, because it costs about $5 billion to build a plant that can turn out somewhere around 50,000,000 barrels a day (if I remember the numbers right). With about 10 plants, it's estimated that the USA can be self-sufficient. And, as you noted, we are swutting rich with coal.
There's something to be said for price stability, and energy independence. Dunno what the legislation would need to say, but whatever it is, it's worth doing.
Oh, and by the way, it's not an oil company that owns the technology - it's 3M I believe. They just want to compete on a somewhat more level playing field, which is certainly nothing we can begrudge.