The Air Force is looking to build a coal-to-liquid plant at its Malmstrom, Montana base. The plant, which would take 4 years to build, comes at a hefty price tag of about $5 billion and would not be funded or built by the Air Force. The Air Force is accepting bids on the project through the end of May. The goal is to fuel half of its fleet with synthetic fuel by 2016. The Malmstrom plant would only be able to accommodate the Air Force with 15% of the necessary fuel to meet that goal. Therefore seven more plants of the same size would need to be built around the country.
The coal-to-liquid philosophy has its skeptics from Capitol Hill all the way to Wall Street. Many legislators believe that coal-to-liquid fuel would make global warming worse by emitting even more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. The outlook from Wall Street may differ depending on who you ask, but Gordon Howald with Calyon Securities said, "Is it a viable technology? Certainly it is. The challenge seems to be getting the first couple (of plants) done. For a company to commit to this and then five years later oil is back at $60 - this becomes the worst idea that ever happened."