Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s Big Idea – to build plants to turn coal into liquid fuel, thus reducing dependence on foreign oil while taking advantage of our coal resources before they are made obsolete by cleaner energy sources – is taking a big beating these days.
The concept, the subject of much recent congressional debate, has a couple of main problems. One is that the huge incentives involved are seen by many as a reckless boondoggle for the coal industry. The second is the fear that carbon dioxide pollution from the process may not be controllable either economically or practically.
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A $1.5 billion coal-to-liquids plant pushed by Gov. Brian Schweitzer suffered another setback when a state official struck down an air quality permit that backers of the plant hoped to use for the project.
The ruling by a Department of Environmental Quality hearing examiner, Katherine Orr, means supporters of the Bull Mountain coal-to-liquids plant near Roundup would have to seek a new permit from scratch, said Evan Barrett, Schweitzer’s chief economic development aide.
That marks another in a string of blows for the project since Bull Mountain was announced by Schweitzer last October.
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