06-19-07 by dugan
(Late update: The worst measures to subsidize liquid fuel from
coal, including Sen. Tester’s, were voted down late today in the
Senate. Coal may still get big handouts, but this bill is gone.)
It’s hard to believe that the Senate, for the benefit of lightly populated Montana, will throw $10 billion in subsidies to the coal industry instead of encouraging biofuels. Everything that’s wrong with this is in a fine USA Today editorial today.
Even if Montana gets just half of the subsidy, that’s more than $5,000 in taxpayer money for each of its fewer than 1 million inhabitants. No wonder Sen. Jon Tester, a freshman Democrat, is making the coal subsidy his price for supporting the already pork-laden energy bill. It could get him reelected for life.
Backers of a project to make liquid fuels from coal say they’ll cut immense greenhouse emissions by reinjecting carbon dioxide into the ground. But the subsidy wouldn’t require this, and it’s never been done on a commercial scale. Given the rapacious history of the coal industry, does anyone think they’ll give up profits to save the Earth? The proposal is especially pernicious because it will come at the cost of encouraging conservation and renewable fuels.