A new report from the National Academies concludes that "the nation can reduce its dependence on imported oil, increase its energy security, and potentially reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by producing alternative liquid transportation fuels from domestically available resources to replace gasoline and diesel. Two abundant domestic resources with potential for producing liquid fuels are biomass and coal." Coal resources are adequate to meet national needs for 100 years, while biomass is a continuing, renewable resource.
The study found that liquid fuels from coal don't offer benefits for greenhouse gases compared to gasoline, but would be cheaper than fuels from biomass, unless costs of emissions are factored.
The report calls for immediately developing a "robust set of conversion technologies" and bringing them to commercial status.
Ref: Liquid Transportation Fuels from Coal and Biomass Technological Status, Costs, and Environmental Impacts America's Energy Future Panel on Alternative Liquid Transportation Fuels; National Academy of Sciences; National Academy of Engineering; National Research Council, ISBN: 978-0-309-13712-6, 300 pages, 6 x 9, paperback (2009)