The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

August 16, 2007

Romney: Coal into liquid fuel key to plan

GOP presidential candidate visits fair

FAIRLEA — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Thursday repeated his pledge to make West Virginia coal key to his national energy plan, and said that commitment would include federal funding for technology to convert coal into liquid fuel.

“We will invest as a nation in new sources of energy, including clean coal,” Romney told The Associated Press while walking with a crowd at the State Fair of West Virginia.

Romney also reaffirmed his desire that the blind trust overseeing his family fortune divest of interests involved with embryonic stem cell research or business deals with Iran.

“My trustee has indicated publicly that he will make an effort to make sure that my investments to the extent possible and practical, will conform with my political positions,” Romney told reporters during his half-hour visit to the sprawling Greenbrier County fairgrounds.

A listing of investments in the trust published this week included companies that work with embryonic stem cells, and foreign energy firms with ties to Iran.

As he pursues conservative support amid the 2008 GOP field, Romney has campaigned against such research while also advocating that public pension funds shed stocks of those involved in Iran.

As for coal, Romney said he ranks it alongside ethanol, biofuels and nuclear energy as alternatives to foreign oil. Romney has also called for increasing the efficiency of homes and vehicles, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Toward that end, Romney said he supports ways to siphon off or reduce carbon dioxide created when coal is burned for fuel.

Romney said he considers coal-to-liquid a “clean” technology. Environmental advocates challenge that moniker, arguing that fuel made from coal generates more greenhouse gases than refining crude oil.

The chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party warned West Virginians to take the former Massachusetts governor’s views on the issues with a grain of salt.

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