If Congress "pulls the plug" on three synthetic fuel projects without
awarding another $744 million in subsidies, t he private sector will
not invest in developing similar projects in the event of another
fuel crisis, warned Ed Noble, chairman of the Synthetic Fuels Corp.,
Noble has required private companies to take some of the risk in
synfuel projects before government money was committed.
To date, the corporation has spent $740 million and executed
contracts with two projects. Three more are planned and Noble thinks
another $744 million in commitments should be made before the
quasi-government corporation he heads is abolished.
"The other three projects have been before the corporation for
over three years," he said in an interview at the offices of The
"We've forced the companies to do a lot of design work. They've
spent a lot of their own money. If you pull the plug now, you won't
get the private sector putting their money in if we have another
energy crisis," he said.
The projects are pilot projects that could save the nation a lot
of time and money if the synthetic fuels are needed in the future.
If the projects prove commercialy viable, national security couldbe
insured in the event of another boycott occurs, he said.
"The United States has vast coal and oil shale resources which, if
converted to liquids and gas," Noble said, "would be equivalent to
five to six times the reserves of the entire Middle East.
"We must prove to the rest of the world that we can utilize these
resources as gas and liquid fuels to sustain our economy and national
"Once we establish this synfuels option, then we truly hold our
destiny in our own hands," he said.
Noble wants to terminate the Synthetic Fuels Corp. just as
congressional critics like Rep. Mike Synar, and has wanted to do so
for a number of years.
He recommended the program be stopped when he headed President
Reagan's transition team for the corporation in 1980. When the
decision was made to continue the Synthetic Fuels Corp., Noble agreed
to serve as chairman because of the strategic value of a proven
synfuels option, he said.
The $88 billion the corporation was authorized was too much to
spend, Noble said. The potential for abuse was too great.
"I have always believed that we can do the job necessary with a
few well-designed, well-managed plants which demonstrate key
conversion technologies at commercial scale for all the major solid
fossil energy resources," he said.
Domestic coal and oil shale resources are equivalent to more than
a trillion barrels of oil, he noted. …