Monday, June 25, 2007

Can Montana's coal-loving governor be green too?

The governor has taken up the cause of alternative energy with gusto. In 2005 he signed into law a “renewable portfolio standard” that requires 15% of electricity sold in Montana to be from renewables by 2015. Wind is already near 10%, he says, and improved transmission lines are on the way.
Last month he signed a bill offering tax incentives to many renewables—including cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel. “It brings tears to my eyes whenever I see another field of camelina,” he says—an oilseed crop, like safflower and sunflowers.

But Mr Schweitzer's real passion these days is “coal to liquids” (CTL): diesel fuel from gasifying coal. This process is costly and emits lots of carbon dioxide, which is bad for global warming, but Mr Schweitzer says that much of the carbon can be sequestered. Montana's two senators—both Democrats, like Mr Schweitzer—also support CTL; an amendment to the federal energy bill pushed by one of them to help the industry has just failed in the Senate.

From The Economist