Imperial oil sands plans dealt blow

CALGARY — The federal government has revoked a key water permit for Imperial Oil Ltd.’s proposed $8-billion Kearl oil sands mine, delaying work on a major new oil sands development as environmental scrutiny of the massive projects around Fort McMurray intensifies.Imperial, which is majority-owned by Exxon Mobil Corp., has been granted an expedited court hearing, scheduled for early May, on its application to overturn the decision. The company says the lost permit could mean a delay of one or more years, according to an affidavit.

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Looking for oil alternatives

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. — On a wind-swept air base near the Missouri River, the Air Force has launched an ambitious plan to wean itself from foreign oil by turning to a new and unlikely source: coal.

The Air Force wants to build at its Malmstrom base in central Montana the first piece of what it hopes will be a nationwide network of facilities that would convert domestic coal into cleaner-burning synthetic fuel.

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Concerns make coal future unclear

WASHINGTON – Coal-producing states that supply nearly half of the nation’s electricity are feeling squeezed as efforts to combat global warming outpace technology needed to make the nation’s most abundant fossil fuel burn more cleanly.

In 2007, proposals for 59 coal plants were scrapped in 24 states, either by state regulators concerned about the effects of carbon dioxide emissions or by power companies worried about the future costs of pollution, according to data from the Sierra Club.

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