coal.jpgA friend just sent me this remarkable story, “Former Air Force official joins leading coal-liquids developer,” which appears in the little-known Aim Points, “A daily summary of news, messages and communication tactics to help AF people tell the AF story.”

It looks like the “tactic” AF people are being told about is the good-ol’ revolving door:

Ron Sega, up until last year the Air Force’s chief energy executive, has joined the board of directors of coal-to-liquids (CTL) fuel developer Rentech, Inc., on Dec. 18, according to a statement issued by the company. Rentech develops synthetic fuels for the Air Force alternative fuels program, using coal and other feedstocks.

Sega resigned as Air Force under secretary in August 2007, after in part leading an effort within the Air Force to develop alternative fuels not based on petroleum and thereby reduce dependence on imported energy supplies.

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“As the Air Force’s chief energy executive, Dr. Sega led the creation of a new energy strategy for the Air Force,” a strategy that addressed “demand-side energy efficiencies, supply-side energy assurance options and the establishment of a culture of conservation,” according to the Rentech statement.

The statement cites Sega as saying: “I am exited to be joining Rentech, a company that is committed to using a wide array of domestic resources to produce environmentally sound fuels that will help ensure our nation’s energy security.”

The Air Force aims to act as a catalyst for the synthetic fuels industry by using its huge buying power to guarantee demand, service officials have said. Officials say that in the near term, coal is the only feedstock that can provide sufficient energy output from synthetic fuels, and will therefore be the dominant feedstock in the so-called “synfuels” program for the time-being.

CTL fuels have drawn criticism from environmentalists, who fear that without carbon capture and sequestration during the manufacturing phase, CTL technology could release twice the amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that petroleum-based fuels do. In response to these fears, the Air Force has committed itself to buy only CTL fuels that are no worse for the environment than conventional fuels, in effect requiring carbon capture and reuse or sequestration.

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Yeah, I’ll believe that when I see it. Note to Air Force: “Carbon capture and reuse” is not bloody likely, unless maybe the AF wants to get into the carbonated beverage business.

The final paragraph has one of those laughable claims that make you wish some people were hooked up to lie detectors as if life were some sort of reality show, rather than the surreality show it really is:

A Rentech spokesman says Sega’s appointment does not serve to cement ties between the Air Force and the company: “That is not why we put him on the board. He is just a very competent qualified person,” says the spokesman, pointing to Sega’s distinguished career as an astronaut, academic and Air Force official.

Seriously one of his qualifications for being on the board is that he was an astronaut! I can hardly wait until Rentech tries to sell liquid coal to NASA!

This post was created for, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

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