CHICAGO (March 27, 2009) - Baard Energy announced today that they had dropped an application with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program for the company’s proposed $6 billion liquid coal refinery, the Ohio River Clean Fuels project (ORCF). Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Sierra Club have mounted a number of legal challenges to the permits issued to the facility, raising significant issues about the dangerous air pollution, water discharges, and global warming pollution that the refinery’s permits would allow.
“This project cannot stand up to legitimate economic analysis---as Baard seems to have concluded by withdrawing it from consideration by the Department of Energy,” said NRDC attorney Shannon Fisk. “If the project cannot get money from the Department of Energy program designed to support advanced coal technology, then the State of Ohio and banks who have been asked to front the money in this economic crisis should really do some serious risk assessment. Baard blames environmentalists for their financial problems, but an environmental review is no threat to a viable project.”
NRDC and Sierra Club have been drawing attention to the disparity between claims being made about this facility publicly from the commitments that have been made in the regulatory process. Despite the repeated label of “clean coal,” Baard has not committed to using carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology or otherwise limiting the facility’s high CO2 emissions. In contrast to Baard’s public claims that they will use cleaner biomass in the facility, their permits potentially authorize fueling the facility entirely with high sulfur coal, which emits large amounts of sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and other pollutants that endanger public health and the environment in the communities around the refinery.
“Baard keeps claiming this is a clean coal facility and nothing could be further from the truth,” said Nachy Kanfer of Sierra Club. “There is nothing clean about a fuel that emits twice the global warming pollution of normal gasoline or a refinery that spits out huge amounts of dangerous air pollutants and heavy metals.”
“Baard paints this refinery as clean, but their public claims simply don’t jibe with what they describe in their regulatory filings,” said NRDC attorney Thom Cmar. “As the country moves to a clean energy economy, there is no place for a plant this dirty.”
The environmental community has long-standing concerns about liquid coal technology due to its incredibly high price tag in both economic and environmental terms. More information on liquid coal is available at http://www.nrdc.org/globalWarming/coal/liquids.pdf