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ENERGY: Separate gas from hot air

| November 17, 2010 9:00 PM

I felt it necessary to comment on a letter by Mr. Keenan entitled "Energy: Demand that it be clean." Mr. Keenan incorrectly portrays the intent of Southeast Idaho Energy's proposed coal gasification/fertilizer plant in American Falls.

In actuality, the plant will convert coal and petroleum coke feedstock into synthesized gas, which will then be used to produce saleable nitrogen-based fertilizers and elemental sulfur. The project first proposed in 2005 was for a 520 MW coal gasification power plant and later reconfigured as the proposed coal gasification fertilizer plant. There will be no power produced or sold, hence, Mr. Keenan's suggestion that you write the governor to request clean forms of alternative energy are unfounded.

What is of major significance, however, is that the air quality permit issued by the Idaho DEQ includes the first of its kind enforceable emissions limits for CO2 - a greenhouse gas.

Southwest Idaho Energy requested the self-imposed limit with the insistence from several powerful environmental groups who threatened to delay the project.

Initially, the plant will purchase emissions offsets, but within five years, plans to capture the 58 percent reduction, sequester and then pipe and/or truck the captured CO2 to the southwestern Wyoming oil and gas fields to be utilized for enhanced oil production. Although EPA is pursuing proposed federal regulatory emissions limits for CO2, IDEQ is quick to point out that this resulting state permit is not precedent setting for future projects.

MICHAEL GERSTEN

Coeur d'Alene

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