"...The hydrogen is made before the electric power or liquid fuels. It contains more available work than the electric power or liquid fuels made from it. This is a very strong reason to expect that hydrogen will be plentiful and economically desirable as a fuel. Hydrogen will be cheaper than the electrical power or synthetic fuels that are made from it and it will contain more available work..."
Although you are thermodynamically correct, I would still take issue. The whole point is energy density and transportability. The stranded natural gas contains more energy than the syngas, so why not just transport it?
There are basically 4 scenarios to monetize stranded gas: LNG - already being done on a large scale. Limited in application to very large reserves and requires upfront investment in liquification, transport fleet and regasification facilities.
Methanol/DME - being done, but small market.
Gas-to-Wire - esentially product the gas, make electricity with it and transport the electricity. Limited in scope because there must be a local market for the electricity. If there is one, then the gas really isn't stranded is it?
Gas-to-Liquids - In its infancy, but probably the next big thing. The liquids can be easily transported using the existing liquids infrastructure and the fuels market is large enough to absorb it.
Regarding gasification of domestic coal or tar, you omit the fact that the H2 must be purified, compressed and transported. I suspect that the only viable route domestically will be IGCC/coal-to-wire. It is simply much cheaper to put the energy un the grid to transport it than to build the purification, compression and pipeline facilities to handle H2.
H2 will eventually be used as fuels, but I would suspect it will be on a very limited basis only where there are external overriding reasons (such as polution) that make it worth the extra expense and lower efficiency to do it.