Montana’s governor wants to solve America’s rising energy costs using a technology discovered in Germany 80 years ago that converts coal into gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel.
The Fischer-Tropsch technology, discovered by German researchers in 1923 and later used by the Nazis to convert coal into wartime fuels, was not economical as long as oil cost less than $30 a barrel.
But with U.S. crude oil now hitting more than double that price, Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s plan is getting more attention across the country and some analysts are taking him very seriously.
Montana is “sitting on more energy than they have in the Middle East,” Schweitzer told Reuters in an interview this week.
“I am leading this country in this desire and demand to convert coal into gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel. We can do it in Montana for $1 per gallon,” he said.
“We can do it cheaper than importing oil from the sheiks, dictators, rats and crooks that we’re bringing it from right now.”
The governor estimated the cost of producing a barrel of oil through the Fischer-Tropsch method at $32, and said that with its 120 billion tons of coal — a little less than a third of the U.S total — Montana could supply the entire United States with its aviation, gas and diesel fuel for 40 years without creating environmental damage.
An entry level Fischer-Tropsch plant producing 22,000 barrels a day would cost about $1.5 billion, he said.
The fuel that comes out of the Fischer-Tropsch method (also used by South Africa during their embargo years) burns cleaner than current fuels, stripping out sulfur, arsenic, and other nasty byproducts. And if Montana alone can deliver 40 years worth of the nation’s energy needs, imagine how much more we’d have when you throw Wyoming, Illinois, Ohio, and West Virginia coal into the mix. More than enough fuel to get us inexpensively into the hydrogen economy.
The geopolitical ramifications are also huge — no need for wars in the Middle East or saber-rattling in Venezuela. The impetus for foolish wars would wane. And cheaper gas (I don’t buy $1/gallon, but even twice that would be a boon) would provide huge benefits to the economy.
Not a modest vision for a small state governor.
Compare to Republican governors getting indicted and convicted and investigated all around the country.