The first-of-its-kind coal-to-liquid fuel project planned for Pennsylvania took another significant step forward with the completion of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) final environmental evaluation. The DOE published its “Final Envi-ronmental Impact Statement” (EIS) on Nov. 2, 2007, on the $800 million coal-to-clean fuels plant.

The EIS evaluates potential impacts of the proposed plant on land use, aesthetics, air quality, geology, etc., and the DOE proposes sharing in the funding for construction and operation of the facility with the developer, WMPI PTY, LLC. The plant is to be located on a 75-acre site near the coal-mining town of Gilberton, the heart of Pennsylvania’s anthracite region, and would produce electricity and steam as well as liquid fuels from anthracite coal waste.

This is the first coal-to-liquid fuel project in the nation that has received local, state and federal permits. It will take three years to build, and construction will provide about 1,000 jobs. The plant will employ about 600 primary and secondary workers.

According to the DOE, waste coal-to-liquid fuel is cleaner, safer and cheaper than the foreign oil that will be displaced.

The DOE selected this project under the “Clean Coal Power Initiative” to demonstrate the integration of two technologies: coal waste gasification and the Fischer-Tropsch process of synthesizing syngas into liquid fuels at a commercial scale.

The power plant portion of the project will use the synthesis gas to drive a gas combustion turbine. Also, it will use the ex-haust gas from the gas turbine to generate steam to drive a steam turbine. Both turbines will generate electricity. EC