Here’s the inside skinny on yesterday’s liquid coal hearing before the House Science & Technology Committee. It was four on two (NRDC’s David Hawkins and me vs. the other witnesses). You can read my testimony here and all the witness statements here — not that I would recommend doing so unless you are a serious liquid-coal junkie like me.

About 10 members of Congress were there at any given time — about evenly split on how they view liquid coal. The ranking Republican on the full committee, Ralph Hall from the great state of Texas, interrogated me at length — trying to get me to say that I was anti-fossil fuel, that I was pro-tax (or that a cap-and-trade system was the same as a tax), and that I never offered any solution to the global warming problem. I think I held my own.

Wildman Roscoe Bartlett (R – Md.) was the most forceful advocate against the stupidity of liquid coal and hydrogen. He came up to me after the hearing and said, “We need to be much more aggressive on conservation and efficiency.” I gave him the one copy of Hell and High Water I brought.

Surprisingly — at least to me — the opening statement that most closely matched my own view came from the ranking Republican on the Subcommittee, Bob Ingliss (S.C.):

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

I’m concerned that we may be headed down the wrong track here in gasifying coal for transportation use. Instead of finding a different way to burn coal out of a different pipe (car exhaust instead of a factory smokestack), there’s an opportunity to chart a new path. By encouraging Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) technology, we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil by utilizing our coal resource. We can address climate concerns by capturing and sequestering nearly all of the carbon emissions. Finally, from that coal, we can produce clean energy — electricity and hydrogen that can fuel plug-in and hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Other than the hydrogen part, he is dead on.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

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