coal is expensive because of the restrictions that have lately been put on it.
i don't have a problem with looking for oil alternatives. the government should not be involved in it except to the extent they can encourage (not fund) that research. there are a number of ways to encourage this research. they can ease the patent process, ease the regulation/permitting process, offer some kind of tax incentive to the companies that can come up with working and cost effective alternatives to oil/gas. the company or person who comes up with the alternative will be very wealthy. nothing motivates success more than profit.
in the mean time, we can drill baby drill. other than to satisfy an agenda, there is no reason not to drill.
aside from our cars, oil products are used in many of the items we use every day, never mind trains, trucks, planes, etc. can we find an alternative to oil that will cover everything? if we can't, and we don't drill, our lives will radically change......and not for the better.
i am a fan of natural gas, but until you can get the tree huggers out of the way, it's going to have the same problems that gas and coal have. look at the problems we are having here trying to build an LNG line across a couple of states.
coal is also cheap and we have an abundance of high quality, cleaner burning, coal in this country. we have plenty in this country for our needs and to export...but again, agenda is in the way of practicality. as coal burning plants need to be replaces we can look at other things to power them. for now, it would be cost prohibitive to redo all coal plants.
we have another clean, free, and abundant energy source and that is hydro. because of tree huggers we do not build more dams and in fact, we are removing many of them. dams are not only good for power, but they are good for recreation, and flood control.