The Air Force’s ongoing testing of coal-based synthetic fuel has been in the news more and more lately, probably due to oil prices. Today, Instapundit points out a recent Popular Mechanics story on the subject.
However, this past spring I pointed out that Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 effectively outlawed the program for fleet use because the production and use of this synthetic fuel creates more greenhouse gas emissions than standard fuel. The fact that the act was for energy independence and security, not environmental feel-good, seems to have escaped someone. The ban allowed for developmental use, so the Air Force continues testing and certifying aircraft to use the new fuel.
There is an effort to repeal the ban, but I don’t think it’s gone anywhere so far. Does anyone know more about the situation? The recent “Gang of 10” energy bill includes this:
Provides grants and loan guarantees for the development of coal-to-liquid fuel plants with carbon capture capability. Plants must have lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions below those of the petroleum fuels they are replacing;
It sounds as if the ability to sequester excess emissions would be required for this to go forward, and that probably wouldn’t violate Section 526. What that does to the cost of producing the coal-based jet fuel and how much it might impact the USAF program, I don’t know.
UPDATE: I fixed the caption on the picture. Also, the image is from AF.mil.