Newsweek has an article on coal to liquid fuel and how it could supply most of our energy needs. Certainly, North America has huge reserves of coal which are fairly easily accessible by simply blowing the tops off of mountains and into the surrounding valleys. The Newsweek piece mentions South Africa's coal to liquid history and the fact that coal-to-liquid (CTL), which costs about $45 per barrel to produce, is economically viable in a world of $60 per barrel crude oil. However, they're short on real details, particularly the environmental consequences.
The article implies that CTL is a green fuel source, mentioning in the final paragraph that carbon sequestration could take care of waste CO2 emissions. It also says that powering cars with liquid coal would be 30 percent cleaner than gasoline, but provides no explanation of how. Liquid coal is not carbon neutral and when it's burned it still releases carbon to the atmosphere that was previously in the ground. Unless the liquid coal is used strictly to produce electricity for EVs, it's not clear how it would ever be cleaner than gasoline. The only real benefit that might come from CTL is that it's domestically produced.
[Source: NewsWeek via Digg]