Burn billions of tons of coal where it lies?

Companies and government administration determined to not give up on coal as a major energy source has come up with a new scheme to burn the coal in place, without actually having to dig it out, and still gain energy from it. The process is called Underground Coal Gasification (UCG). New Scientist has an article on UCG [subscription required] which they end with: “Whatever the local, short-term benefits of adopting UCG, in the long run liberating even a fraction of the carbon stored in the world’s subterranean coal reserves could create one hell of an environmental nightmare”.
It seems that some people are just dead against environmentally sustainable production of energy. Clearly not a single solution is going to provide for the power requirements for the future, but burning coal in place that is not economical to dig up, seems like a spectacularly bad idea. Despite this millions of pounds and dollars are spent on researching these ideas, whilst proven sustainable technology founders because of lack of funding.