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Coal-to-diesel fuels possible progress: Company looks at McCracken County as potential replacement for $3 billion Cairo plant plan
[June 04, 2008]

Coal-to-diesel fuels possible progress: Company looks at McCracken County as potential replacement for $3 billion Cairo plant plan

(Paducah Sun, The (KY) (KRT) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jun. 4--The company that proposed a $3 billion coal-to-diesel plant in Cairo, Ill., last year has filed an application with the Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet seeking incentives for an undisclosed project in McCracken County.

Clean Coal Power Resources of Louisville announced plans last year to buy the Cairo Regional Airport and build a plant that would create more than 2,000 jobs.

The Cairo project has been abandoned because the Federal Aviation Administration would not allow the sale of the land because funds were not raised to build a new airport elsewhere, according to Bill Capie, who was Clean Coal's spokesman for the project, and Jack Guetterman, member of the Cairo Airport board. Capie is no longer affiliated with the company.

Capie and Guetterman said they understand Clean Coal is now considering a location near Paducah. The Economic Development Cabinet said details of Clean Coal's incentive application are confidential until the incentives are approved. Officials of Clean Coal would not comment.

If the coal-to-diesel plant is built in McCracken County, it would be the largest single private development project ever in Kentucky.

The plans in Cairo were for the plant to eventually have a capacity to produce 100,000 barrels of diesel fuel per day. It would use thousands of tons of coal from western Kentucky and southern Illinois in a conversion process known as Fischer-Tropsch, which was developed in Germany in 1923.

After the Cairo project became public last year, company officials warned that the project depended on finding partners, customers for the diesel fuel, and clearing state and federal environmental hurdles to obtain construction and operating permits. Permitting could take a year or more.

Officials also said that up to 2,000 construction workers would be employed and that it would take up to three years to construct. The plant also would attract other businesses, creating hundreds of additional jobs.

Clean Coal Power Resources said it picked Cairo because it was close to coal fields, along a major inland waterway, along major rail lines, close to an interstate and had access to utilities. Those same assets are available at the McCracken County site. However, the company also is considering sites in other states.

Guetterman said he understands the proposed site is across the Ohio River from Metropolis, Ill., which is where the 1,780-acre Riverport West in western McCracken County is located. That land is owned and controlled by the Greater Paducah Economic Development Corp.

Company officials would not comment on their latest plan. Mayor Bill Paxton and GPEDC officials also declined comment, saying that premature acknowledgment of any economic development project could cause it to be canceled. They also said they didn't want to raise false hopes on any project before developers are ready to make a formal announcement.

The state Economic Development Cabinet said it didn't know when the incentive application for Clean Coal would be considered by the Kentucky Industrial Development Finance Authority board.

City and county officials have been saying for several months that they were working on a major economic development project. However, they have declined to give details.

Gov. Steve Beshear, during a visit to Paducah in March, was briefed on the project in a private meeting with Paxton, Judge-Executive Van Newberry, GPEDC Chairman Rex Smith and GPEDC recruiter Wayne Sterling.

The governor said he was committed to helping GPEDC in its recruitment effort. "The governor ought to be personally involved in recruitment because so much of the success in economic development depends on personal relationships," Beshear said at the time. "Having the governor directly involved should be a major plus."

Paxton and Newberry also met with the governor last week, and local economic development officials were in Frankfort on Tuesday to meet with top officials of the economic development cabinet.

Bill Bartleman can be contacted at 575-8651.


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