Coal industry-hired PR agencies must have come to the realization that the "Clean Coal" mantra isn't working out as they'd planned. How else to explain advocates referring to a billion dollar coal gasification project as making "synthetic natural gas?" Reminds us of an old George Carlin routine from Saturday Night Live.
"The term Jumbo Shrimp has always amazed me. What is a Jumbo Shrimp? I mean, it's like Military Intelligence - the words don't go together, man."
Here's where we first came across the "synthetic natural gas" phrase:
Power Holdings first announced it had chosen the Waltonville area of Jefferson County [Illinois] as its choice for construction of a $1 billion synthetic natural gas plant. The gas would be created using an "environmentally friendly" specialized technology designed to use Illinois coal. At the time of the announcement, the company stated the area was chosen due to its proximity to water, coal reserves and transportation systems and one of the main natural gas pipelines for the state.On a more serious note: downstate Illinois is underlain by vast beds of highly sulfurous coal, which are of little economic value unless some way is found to extract the energy while leaving the sulfur behind, minimizing, also, the C02 emissions.
Coal Gasification is really the only technology option. If this is going to happen - and it probably is to varying degrees -we hope the discussion will revolve more around jobs, resource efficiencies, acid rain, and climate impact, and less around semantics.