The Trouble With "Energy Independence"

People who need to run for office like to frame the trouble with America's oil consumption as not just part of the global warming puzzle, but part of a larger "energy security" problem whose solution is "energy independence." If framing the question this way helps win the climate change argument, I don't have a problem with that, but as Brad Plumer points out that's unlikely to be the case:

The coal industry has lately latched on to the "energy security" craze by billing itself as the answer to our oil-dependency woes. Specifically, Big Coal is teaming up with an array of Republicans and Democrats to tout liquefied coal as a substitute for gasoline in U.S. vehicles. The country is sitting on vast coal reserves, they reason, so why not use those instead of tossing money at the House of Saud? There's just one catch: Liquefied coal would do little to reduce carbon emissions and, in all likelihood, would make things worse. Nevertheless, the idea continues to gain currency in Congress, in part because "energy security" is a sales pitch few politicians can resist. [...]

Unfortunately for them, a recent analysis by the Energy Department found that coal-to-liquid fuel could generate roughly twice the carbon emissions that regular gasoline does. Coal backers counter that, if the carbon released during liquefication could be captured and permanently stored underground, the fuel would be comparable in carbon impact to gasoline--that is, the status quo. But the technology for storing carbon underground remains unproved [...]

It's ugly out there. But for a political party to position itself squarely as the party that's against coal is seen as too politically crazy for anyone to embrace.