About

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Andrew T. Gillies is Director of Communications at the Center for Audit Quality, an affiliate of the American Institute of CPAs, in Washington, DC. Based in Washington since 2002, he has also worked in editorial and communications roles at the Investment Company Institute, the World Bank, Forbes, and Vault.com. His policy-themed writing has focused on aerospace and defense, energy and environment, transportation, and financial services.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Getting Burned

Washington, D.C. - As the table below indicates, Wall Street has cooled on the coal business lately. Particularly hard hit, in share price terms at least, have been two concerns, Headwaters and Rentech, specializing in turning coal into liquid fuel.

At a Wednesday hearing on Capitol Hill, those two companies pleaded for Washington to nurture the fledgling coal-to-liquid industry.

“Oil price volatility continues to discourage potential [coal-to-liquid] investors,” Robert Freerks, Rentech’s (amex: RTK - news - people ) director of product development, told the House Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Energy and Environment. “Congress should enact policy to help reduce risk and encourage investment in these plants.”

“Until we get the first few plants built, there’s tremendous resistance from the private capital market,” agreed John Ward, Headwaters' (nyse: HW - news - people ) vice president for marketing and government affairs (note: half of Headwaters’ sales come from residential construction materials).

As we’ve observed elsewhere, (See: "Its Not Easy Being Green"], Washington tends to stand by long-shot energy technologies, even after the stock market has given them the thumbs-down. But the members at today’s hearing weren’t an easy audience.

Full story at Forbes.com