WASHINGTON, May 10 (UPI) -- A bipartisan group of Washington lawmakers is pushing for federal incentives to develop coal-derived fuel.
The lawmakers -- including presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. -- are suggesting federal loan guarantees, tax breaks and other subsidies to promote the development of a coal-based fuel for motor vehicles, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.
"Here is an opportunity to vote for U.S. coal and against Saudi oil," Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, said during a Senate hearing on a coal-fuel measure.
However, critics say fuel made from coal is damaging to the environment, and the process of turning coal into liquid fuel emits greenhouse gases related to global warming.
"At best, coal-to-liquids will be equal to conventional gasoline," Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., said at the hearing. "Frankly, we've got to do much, much better."
Obama said his support for coal fuel is dependent on finding new ways to prevent the emissions of greenhouse gases from the process.
"If it is used simply to compound the problem of greenhouse gases, then it's not going to be a credible strategy," he said.