The Saratoga Sun -

Commissioners split on DKRW decision

 


A motion by the Carbon County Commission to recommend the denial of Medicine Bow Fuel and Power’s (MBFP) request for more time to start DKRW construction failed at the Dec. 17 Carbon County Commissioners Meeting.

MBFP’s specific request was for an additional 30 months to begin construction on DKRW, but it failed with an split 2-2 vote from the commissioners. Presenters at the meeting were DKRW Executive Vice President Wade Cline and DKRW Attorney Mary Throne, who were seeking an amendment to buy more time to build the proposed coal-to-gas plant in Carbon County.

Commissioners Leo Chapman and John Espy voted against the recommendation to deny the extension, while commissioners Lindy Glode and Sue Jones voted in favor of it. Commissioner John Johnson was the one to abstain from the vote because of his association with the project.

If passed, the resolution would have been submitted to the Industrial Siting Council (ISC) in time for last Wednesday’s hearing in Saratoga, to consider MBFP’s formal request for the amendment.

“So, the Carbon County Commission has no stance on this project,” Jones said at the commissioners meeting. “As a cooperating entity, that is somewhat sad. This company has brought a lot of firsts to this county.”

Espy said he felt that there was not enough information given from DKRW, and not enough updates over time.

“In my opinion I think we’re really lacking from a lack of information from DKRW,” he said. “I’m really bothered by it, but on the other hand, I kind of see maybe giving them one last bite at the carrot. I don’t want to come off as being seen anti-business or anything like that, buy you guys can’t just come flying in every once a couple of years and try to sell us ‘snake oil’. You need to keep us in the loop.”

Chapman suggested that the ISC give them extended time, but that it should be 18 months instead of the 30 months asked for by the DKRW representatives.

“I propose they submit a revised construction schedule including a detailed site development final plan, but for 18 months, with an additional six-month review and consultation period prior to construction,” he said. “The permit amendment request would be a for a period up to 24 months total elapsed time from the ISC meeting in Saratoga, Wyoming, as of Dec. 18, 2013.”

Chapman said the project could bring permanent, well-paying employment for 450 workers in Carbon County, but also wished the commission was kept more in the loop with the project. He did, however, thank Cline and Throne for presenting at the meeting.

“At this point in time we appreciate you coming here, but I wish you would have been here earlier in terms of months,” Chapman said. “I think what you’ve had to say was important for us, but there’s just so much uncertainty going around. At this late in time, I think peoples’ minds are fairly made up. Thank you very much for your presentation.”

Cline defended the proposed 30-month timeframe for the project, and said he understood how people could be impatient with that long of a waiting period.

“Clearly the timeline is the issue today that has people frustrated, and there are different people who are more in favor of the project than others,” he said. “There are some who are opposed to it, in respect of the timeline, and the timeline is the issue that has people thinking and talking about our project today. We believe the 30-month window of time is sufficient time for us to develop that and finalize that start date and get moving.”

Even with the meeting’s outcome, Cline said he respected the stance of the commission members, and appreciated their questions and support on the project.

“I thought they did an excellent and thorough job in asking questions, and trying to get answers to their own questions, as well as questions they hear from their constituents,” he said. “Carbon County Commissioners have long been a very dedicated and thorough party to our permit, as well as have been advocates for our project. They, along with other folks are frustrated with the pace of development on the project, and their constituents are frustrated. I felt the commissioners today were representing their comments and expressing their views and concerns, and we appreciate the opportunity to come and talk with them and present to them.”

The coal-to-gas plant project proposed is expected to cost $1.7 to $2 billion. Cline said the plant is projected to bring 430 to 450 full time jobs to the area, and around 2,300 jobs during construction.

The plant is also projected to produce 21,000 barrels of gas per day, and when completed, Cline said it would be a “world-class, leading coal conversion project”.

“It takes existing technology currently in use around the world, and it is used to convert coal to transportation-ready gasoline,” he said. “It is a big advantage for the U.S., and for Wyoming and Carbon County as well, and it provides an alternative use for coal that is a clean coal technology. At a time in which the coal industry is under some pressure, this provides a new way to use existing resources that you have here in Carbon County, and certainly in the state of Wyoming as well as in our country.”

 

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