Clean Coal - The Answer To Energy Crisis? - Part 2 Of Series

The price of gasoline has gone down a little since this spring, but many drivers still complain about the fluctuation in cost with seemingly no explanation. Tonight, we examine one fuel option that could set a price far below what we've seen in decades.

The cost of coal made fuel may seem too good to be true.

"We could certainly be making transportation fuel from coal at $15 to $20 a barrel rather than importing it at $70 to $75 a barrel," said Dr. Burtron Davis.

Triple A reports even at $2.21 a gallon for regular unleaded at the pump, the price per barrel, is about $58.

Representative Rocky Adkins says the technology has been around since World War Two, so you may wonder what are we waiting for? He says South Africa already uses a mixture of "syn" gas and oil for 50 percent of its jet fuel, but to fill up your car's tank, engineers say a little tweaking is left to do.

Governor Fletcher and the Appalachian Regional Commission released a blueprint for energy to push the nation forward in non-petroleum based fuel alternatives, including a plan to curb the cost of research and development.

"In order to keep the rates down for our customers and be competitive, we are going to have to work with private companies with their investments and then provide incentives for those companies to utilize new technology," Governor Fletcher said.

The success of technology in Kentucky may benefit Homeland Security as well. Representative Adkins says the single largest user of foreign oil is the U.S. Military.

"The Department of Defense has put out a request for proposals to actually start testing these very fuels in their tanks and fighter planes and to try to get to use only one fuel," Adkins said.

Dr. Davis says at $40 a barrel, the cost of building and operating the plant would be paid for.

If this technology ever becomes a national reality, that could mean a big boom in the coal industry. Thursday, in part three of our series, we visit a coal company and find out if Appalachian coal fields could handle the demand.

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