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According to the publication "Think Progress," a new coal gasification startup may be trampling on a name developed by San Diego's beloved Dr. Seuss. A Massachusetts company has raised more than $1 million in seed capital to launch the green coal company, LoraxAg. The company says the name was chosen because Dr. Seuss's Lorax is the protector of the truffula trees. But local attorney Karl Zobell warns, "We did not give permission for them to use the Lorax, which Dr. Seuss created. Typically we don't like people to use Dr. Seuss terms without permission." The dispute has not gone to court.

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Visduh Dec. 31, 2012 @ 9:29 a.m.

About the last thing the world needs now is coal gasification. Natural gas is more abundant than any time in memory, and prices are very low. This glut of gas shows signs of persisting. So, why gasify coal? In the aftermath of the 73-74 Arab oil embargo, which was branded by the media as the "energy crisis", some major players decided that converting coal to gas had promise. A major gas utility, American Natural Gas which changed its name to American Natural Resources, sank a huge amount of capital into a coal gasification pilot plant in, I recall, Wyoming. By the early 80's it was a bust, not because it could not make gas from coal, but it could not do it cheaply enough to compete with alternative fuels, especially natural gas. ANR wrote off many millions on that one.

There's an ancient technology for making artificial gas (a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen) from coal. That's the gas that was used in the "gaslamp" era, but I doubt that these modern gasification plants employ it. For one thing, if that gas leaks, it is very dangerous because of its CO content.

As to the name chosen, it may almost be an insider joke. I can see no way to describe gas made from coal as "green." Perhaps it is just an appeal, to those who have little or no business sense, to find the idea intriguing and part with some hard-earned dollars. And it also has a certain childish charm which also might be part of a winning appeal.


Don Bauder Dec. 31, 2012 @ 9:47 a.m.

Visduh: You are correct that natural gas prices have plummeted. Supposedly, coal gasification is environmentally friendly. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh Jan. 1, 2013 @ 9:19 p.m.

I'd like to hear much more about a claim that converting coal into gas is friendly to the environment. One of the biggest drawbacks to it was that it required large energy inputs to make the conversion work, and that it also generated large amounts of waste that needed to be put somewhere. The current mining practices in the east, notably in West Virginia, has strip miners essentially dismantling entire mountains to get to thin (as little as 18 inches thick) seams of high quality coal. After the coal has been hauled away, the mountain is heaped up again, basically a pile of loose rock and soil with no geologic integrity and nothing to hold it together. That sort of thing does not sound friendly at all. In fact, it is dreadful, and is permanently scarring the land.


Don Bauder Jan. 4, 2013 @ 7:32 a.m.

Visduh: Yes, aesthetics suffer. West Virginia is one of the worst examples. Best, Don Bauder


Burwell Dec. 31, 2012 @ 3:07 p.m.

There's a green company in Frisco named Lorax Development. A lot of companies are encroarching on Doc Suess's intellectual property. Karl ought to start checking birth certificates to make sure nobody's named their son Lorax.



Don Bauder Dec. 31, 2012 @ 4:41 p.m.

Burwell: ZoBell said he had never heard of LoraxAg. Yes, he should be looking around. Best, Don Bauder


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