Actually I think the Oxford discussion and coal in general is a very relevant topic to discuss, especially consumption trends vs natural gas.
Coal exports are up, and we have an administration that is very unfriendly towards coal fired power plants, but which so far have not been nearly as aggressive in shutting down coal mines. Of course, it doesn't hurt that states such as West Virginia, which are heavily tied to mining, have representatives that have told Obama to back off on shutting down the mines.
The miners don't care if the coal is burned in the US or overseas as long as they are employed.
What will be interesting to see is if any sort of Sasol type players step up and attempt to build some sort of coal to liquids facility on a large scale. They could even incoporporate carbon sequestration and sell the CO2 for tertiary recovery, though a pipeline would be necessary, so perhaps piggybacking on an existing line would be best, such as Denbury's Green line.
When politicians make disruptive changes, it often leads to unintended consequences. Wouldn't it aggravate the left if coal to liquids took off in the US vis SASOL's Fischer-Tropsch process?