Congressional Briefing - November 17, 2008

Unconventional Fossil-Based Fuels: Economic and Environmental Trade-Offs

coal liquefication plant


Michael Toman


Monday, November 17, 2008


1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.


2212 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C.

About the Program

Concerns about energy security and CO2 emissions are motivating interest in possible substitutes for conventional liquid fuels. Petroleum products derived from conventional crude oil constitute more than 95 percent of all energy used in the U.S. transportation sector. Almost 60 percent of liquid fuels are imported into the United States. Emissions from the consumption of petroleum account for 44 percent of the nation's CO2 emissions, with approximately 33 percent of national CO2 emissions resulting from transportation-fuel use.

The RAND Corporation will present the findings of a study that assesses:

  • the potential future production levels,
  • production costs,
  • greenhouse gases, and
  • other environmental implications of synthetic crude oil from oil sands and fuels produced via coal liquefaction, relative to conventional petroleum-based transportation fuels.

The report looks at the potential cost-competitiveness of these alternative fuels and the potential trade-offs that their deployment requires.

About the Speaker

Henry Willis

Michael Toman is a Senior Economist working on energy and climate change issues in RAND's Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment Division. Prior to joining RAND, Mike worked in the central environment division of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), coordinating the Bank's programs on sustainable energy and climate change. Before joining the IDB, Mike worked for a number of years as a researcher and research manager at Resources for the Future, with involvement in a number of topic areas including energy, climate change, and sustainable economic development. From 1994-1996 Mike served as a Senior Staff Economist for the Council of Economic Advisers, Executive Office of the President, handling energy and environmental issues for the Council. Mike also is an adjunct faculty member at the Nitze School of International Studies, Johns Hopkins University and at the Bren School of the Environment, University of California at Santa Barbara.

RAND Office of Congressional Relations

For 60 years, RAND has provided policymakers with independent, objective research and analysis on key national security, domestic and international issues. RAND work helps members of Congress and their staffs make better-informed decisions on the nation's pressing challenges. The Office of Congressional Relations offers a number of products and services to educate, inform, and facilitate congressional policymakers' access to RAND work, including coordinating congressional testimony by RAND experts, organizing briefings and meetings, synthesizing RAND work into topical e-newsletters and providing reports and publications to congressional offices. For more information, visit the Office of Congressional Relations webpage, contact or call (703) 413-1100 x5395.

Further Inquiries

For further information about this event, contact the Office of Congressional Relations at or call (703) 413-1100 x5395.