Conservation Groups Urge Wyoming to Reconsider Turning Coal into Dirty Fuel

Conservation Groups Urge Wyoming to Reconsider Turning Coal into Dirty Fuel
Plan would blanket region’s people in stew of pollution

By: Earthjustice

Medicine Bow, WY, Aug. 4, 2008 – Medicine Bow Fuel & Power, LLC, proposes to build a mine and fuel production plant in Medicine Bow Wyoming that would convert coal mined at the site into liquid transportation fuel. The plant would emit air pollutants over the region and beyond, including cancer-causing benzene, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, and other dangerous air pollutants. These pollutants can lead to cancer, lung and heart disease, asthma, and even premature death. Among those most at risk are children and the elderly, from the very fine dust and soot that causes heart disease, heart attacks, arrhythmias, asthma attacks, acute bronchitis, reduced lung function, and premature death. In addition, the proposed plant would significantly increase the risk of cancer due to the emission of benzene and other hazardous air pollutants.

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has stated that it intends to issue an air permit to the plant without requiring adequate protection for the public from the air pollution health risks.

Earthjustice, the Sierra Club, and the Wyoming Outdoor Council are taking action to hold the Wyoming DEQ responsible to its clear commitments under state and federal laws, which require much more thorough investigation and analysis and a meaningful opportunity for public review and comment before granting a permit for the facility.

“Wyoming is seeing increasing air quality problems, from dust in the Powder River Basin due to coal mining to ozone pollution in Pinedale due to oil and gas development. Now this coal-to-liquids plant near Medicine Bow would greatly reduce air quality in southeast Wyoming,” says Bruce Pendery of the Wyoming Outdoor Council. “The state needs to publicly ask itself if this increasing move toward ‘non-attainment’ with air quality standards is what Wyoming wants and if such further air pollution is in the best interest of the public.”

Conservation groups have filed formal comments with the state pointing out major problems and shortcomings with the proposed plant.

Liquid coal produces twice the global warming emissions of conventional petroleum fuels, and studies have shown that even with carbon capture and storage, global warming emissions from liquid coal can reach up to 25 percent above gasoline refined from petroleum. The state hasn’t made any effort to regulate the greenhouse gas emissions that would be generated by the proposed plant.

The plant would also greatly degrade air quality at nearby wilderness and park areas, including the Rawah Wilderness, Savage Run Wilderness, Mount Zirkel Wilderness, and Rocky Mountain National Park.

“The state of Wyoming has a responsibility to protect the public’s health and to ensure that this plant would not devastate the air quality in the local area,” said Earthjustice attorney Sarah Works. “So far they’ve failed to do their job.”



NRDC: Energy Policy Meltdown: Bush Administration and Oil Shale

NRDC: Energy Policy Meltdown: Bush Administration and Oil Shale
NRDC Reacts to Department of Interior Oil Shale Announcement

By: Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

WASHINGTON, DC (July 22, 2008) – In a potentially disastrous plan that would destroy large tracts of the Rocky Mountain region, the Bush administration today announced its draft regulations for opening 2 million acres of public lands in Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah for commercial oil shale production, according to experts at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The following are statements from Amy Mall, the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Senior Policy Analyst regarding today’s announcement:

“Our addiction to oil has gotten so bad that the Bush administration is considering cooking rocks as an energy solution. By putting out long-term oil shale production regulations, they are proposing that we swap oil for water in the Rockies. There is a better way. We can use the resources we already have more efficiently, such as doubling the fuel economy performance of our vehicles which would be the same as cutting gas prices in half.”

“Instead of smart investment in clean, efficient energy for the long term, this proposal offers false hope and hollow promises to everyday Americans who are struggling with energy gas prices. This is more evidence that President Bush has no intention of curing-as he calls it-‘the country’s addiction to oil.'”

“Some of our largest oil companies have stated that current research efforts into oil shale will not produce any tangible results for decades. It is impossible for a government agency to develop sensible regulations for an unknown industry, and a waste of taxpayer dollars.”

“The technological hurdles to actually cook oil out of rock are enormous. We have limited understanding of the long term impacts of this process, aside from destroying some of America’s great landscapes and sucking up the most valuable commodity in the West-water.”

NRDC analysis confirms that a commercially viable oil shale industry would have enormous environmental impacts. Oil shale production is expected to emit four times more global warming pollution than production of conventional gasoline-making it the dirtiest fuel on the planet. It could require as much water as almost 1.5 million people use in one year, a threat to an arid region that depends on every drop of water. Because oil shale will be far more costly to produce than conventional fuel, commercial oil shale development may not even reduce gas prices.

The Bush administration should be offering positive solutions to Americans, such as incentives to keeping vehicles properly maintained and using transportation alternatives one day per week, which can save the average driver about $800 on gasoline per year. For more information on solutions, rather than false promises, see: