Some environmental groups are hoping the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (Dep) will stop a proposed Mason County coal-to-liquids plant project.
The Sierra Club, in particular, wants the Dep to withdraw its draft air quality permit and send the developer, Domestic Synthetic Fuels (Dsf), back to determine what it believes would be more accurate emissions data.
Jim Kotcon, Sierra Club West Virginia Chapter conservation chairman, broadly outlined the club’s objections at a recent public hearing Dep held on the permit in Mason County, the Morgantown Dominion Post newspaper reported.
There are a large number of areas where Dsf is underestimating emissions in its permit application, Kotcon said. And Dep offered an uncritical review of the data.
Sierra Club detailed its concerns in a 34-page letter submitted to Dep as part of the public comment period, the Dominion Post reported.
Dsf plans to build the plant on a 200-acre industrial site north of Point Pleasant along the Ohio River. The company says its plant will employ direct coal-to-liquids (Ctl) technology to convert coal and natural gas, using heat and pressure, into low-sulfur diesel and jet fuel, gasoline and other by-products.
It will use roughly 23 million cubic feet per day of natural gas and 2,500 tons of coal daily to produce 451,500 gallons of fuel.
The $1.2 billion investment will gross $300 million per year and generate $11.5 million per year in annual payroll and benefits.
Dsf says this will be the first full-size direct Ctl plant in the nation. Small-scale projects have succeeded in the U.S., and a similar full-size plant has been operating in China for 11 years.
Dsf says previous Ctl plants have been environmentally dirty, using an indirect method of burning coal to create gases processed into liquids. The Mason County plant will be near-zero emissions and will self-recycle, preventing new burdens to landfills.
Supporters include the West Virginia Coal Association, the West Virginian Oil and Natural Gas Association, the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia, the Business and Industry Council, assorted trade unions and a number of public officials, the Dominion Post reported.
Dep approved the draft permit in June. Pending final approval, Dsf expects to begin building in October and to open the plant in late 2022 or early 2023.
Opposition to the plant comes from a variety of individuals, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and the Sierra Club, among others.
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