Gizmodo-The process of turning coal—possibly the most carbon-intensive and environmentally harmful fossil fuel—into a liquid gas fell out of favor after World War II, due to its high cost, pollution footprint, and readily available alternatives like natural gas and petroleum. But as coal for electricity and industrial use falls, the industry is trying to revive this old technology under a modern veneer.

That push has largely failed in the U.S., but Indonesia—the world’s largest coal exporter—is now taking the lead, with state and coal interests planning to spend billions on what might be a costly and environmentally dangerous technology.

“The Indonesian coal industry is trying to secure their market domestically, and the government is doing all they can to support the coal industry,” Andri Prasetiyo, a Program Manager at Trend Asia, an NGO based in the capital Jakarta said.

Before the Indonesian government pumps money into gasification, they might want to take a look at what happened in the U.S. not so long ago. Back in the 2000s, the American coal industry was pushing to build gasification plants to turn coal into a liquid gas that, they claimed, could be used in chemicals and even for transportation as an alternative to imported oil and then-expensive natural gas.

More stories on…