COMMENT: The GOP has seized upon the Fischer/Tropsch process as a means of reducing U.S. dependency on imported fossil fuels. Developed by the I.G. Farben firm and used by the Third Reich to produce fuel, the process was the focal point of the Standard/I.G. Agreement of 1929.
Recently, the process has been used to facilitate the processing of natural gas into high-quality diesel fuel.
Note that the GOP is pushing legislation that would authorize the Pentagon to use environmentally destructive fuel derived from Fischer/Tropsch. The Pentagon, to its great credit, is pushing back!
One wonders what royalties might accrue to GOP-friendly mega-corporations that benefit from Fischer/Tropsch?
EXCERPT: . . . The subsequent vicious Allied fight from Normandy to Germany saw the Nazis largely fueled by a technology that is now being promoted by the Republican Congressional leadership, in collusion with its munificent fiscal campaign energy supporters, as a way to lessen U.S. dependence on energy imports.
At issue is the Fishcher-Tropsch coal liquefaction process, developed by energy-poor Germany in the 1920s and expanded by the Nazi regime. Bent on dominating Europe, Hitler’s war machine suffered from increasing fuel shortages, first in September 1939 when Britain’s Royal Navy clamped a naval blockade on the Baltic, exacerbated in June1941 when the invasion of the USSR ended Soviet energy imports, leaving Germany largely dependent on Romania’s Ploesti oilfields after the failure of Army Group south to capture the Caucasus and Azerbaijan’s rich Caspian resources. FT production became increasingly critical to fueling Hitler’s war machine from then onwards, given Germany’s immense coal reserves.
By 1944, Germany was producing 124,000 barrels of synthetic fuels daily at 25 FT plants. FT was subsequently commercialized by South Africa’s apartheid regime, beginning in the 1950s through South Africa’s state energy company Suid Afrikaanse Steenkool en Olie (SASOL), founded in 1950, now a private company and the world’s leading proponent of FT. In the early 1980s, as UN sanctions against South Africa began to take effect, two large coal to liquid (CTL) SASOL production facilities were commissioned and now form the single largest and most profitable asset in SASOL’s global portfolio.
If the ideological footprint of Fischer-Tropsch is vile, then its environmental impact is even worse. Quite aside from the ideological concerns, fuel derived from the FT process has a carbon footprint 118 percent greater than that of conventional gasoline.
Nevertheless, on 12 May the House Armed Services Committee voted to eliminate a ban on the military purchasing high carbon non-conventional fuels. In considering the annual National Defense Authorization Act, House Resolution 1540, the committee voted to exempt the Department of Defense from Section 526 of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, which prohibits federal agencies from procuring fuels with higher life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels, including liquid coal and tar sands oil.
The Pentagon is pushing back against being mandated to use these dirty fuels, backed by the coal industry and its Congressional supporters. On 3 June, Tom Hicks, the Navy’s deputy assistant secretary for energy, testified before a House Energy and Commerce Committee panel against Fischer-Tropsch fuels, stating, “In addition to requiring large new sources of coal, it requires enormous quantities of water, $5 to $10 billion in capital per plant to provide a fuel result that is more than twice as carbon-intensive as petroleum,” promoting instead new generation biofuels made from sources like camelina crops, corn stover and algae. . . .