Coal Tattoo

Will Mingo coal-to-liquids plant hire local workers?

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Remember the Trans-Gas Development Systems LLC coal-to-liquids project proposed for Mingo County? You know … the one the coal industry says would be so great for local workers and the local economy …

Well, the Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation isn’t so sure. The ACT Foundation — a coalition of local construction workers unions — is raising questions about whether the project will hire local folks. And, the group is questioning a draft air pollution permit the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection proposes to issue for the plant.

ACT Foundation officials outlined their concerns in an article in the latest issue of their newsletter, The ACT Report. Steve White, the group’s director, said:

When we looked into at this project, we quickly ran into all sorts of problems. If they won’t use local workers, we usually find they are cutting corners elsewhere.

More...The ACT newsletter reported that “some discussions have taken place” about local hiring with the Tri-State Building and Construction Trades Council, but “an agreement was never reached.” Instead, the newsletter reported, Trans-Gas “said they may bring in workers from New York.”

ACT hired consultant Carpenter Environmental Associates to review the company’s air pollution permit. They found that WVDEP was proposing to allow the project to be permitted as a “minor source” of air pollution, but  Carpenter’s review showed it should be subjected to a more rigorous “major source” permit process.

As Coal Tattoo has pointed out several times before, coal-to-liquids technology will double greenhouse gas emissions, compared to traditional petroleum transportation fuels, unless the plants producing coal-to-liquids fuels are equipped with carbon capture and sequestration equipment— and Trans-Gas is not proposing such equipment for its Mingo County plan.

The ACT Foundation newsletter article didn’t address that issue. But, the newsletter did question whether this project “will never materialize and may simply be an attempt to get tax breaks from other states.” It noted that in 2006, a California-based company called Rentech Energy Solutions Inc. announced plans for a similar project in Mingo County, but that project never got off the ground.