Air Force officials laid out an ambitious plan Wednesday to develop a privately financed coal-to-diesel plant at Malmstrom air base within the next four years at a cost of $1 billion to $4 billion.
The plant, which would be among the first of its kind in the nation, would use a technology perfected in Nazi Germany to turn coal into synthetic fuels, including jet fuel for use by the Air Force.
The project has strong support from the coal industry, which considers synthetic fuels a promising new market as coal-fired power plants face opposition over climate change.
But environmental groups already are girding up to fight the project. At a community forum on the Malmstrom proposal Wednesday, they said the plant and others like it could increase emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide _ even as governments around the world struggle to cut those emissions.
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