Coal Gasification Hearing in Rockport

Garret Matthews, writing for the Evansville Courier Press, has an article on a hearing about the coal gasification plant contemplated for Rockport that took place yesterday. Industry representatives gave rosy testimony: the endeavor will be economically successful, it will provide jobs, and there will be no environmental problems. Community leaders seem to be interested pretty much only in the 500 jobs the project is supposed to create.

The Citizens Action Coalition isn’t so sure. It says the only way the project is economically viable is if the ratepayers are locked in as collateral, an anti-capitalistic move. In other words, if gas from this project is more expensive than natural gas from other sources, ratepayers will still have to buy gas at the coal gasification rate.

John Blair of Valley Watch said coal gasification will never be viable.

“Not only will it be an economic disaster,” Blair said, “if the plant is built, the company wants zero risk. The taxpayers will have the liability for the CO2.”

The environmental concerns make me think a little of the NFL concussion issue that’s been in the news a little bit lately. Concussions have crippling, long term effects. But, in the short term, the impact is minimal. Meanwhile, the need is very great in the short term for players suffering concussions to take the field. So, the long term costs get shoved aside in pursuit of short term gain. Environmental impacts are frequently subtle and slow. So, communities go for the short term jobs and sacrifice their future.


  1. says

    Hence the reason why I never buy the argument that businesses will be forward looking enough to not kill their customers in the long run.

    If people (individual, government or business) cared about the long term, they would never have debt.

  2. says

    If this was going to be such a viable commercial enterprise, why did every one of their partners pull out of the project? It would be onne thing if you could make the argument that this would lead to a public good, and the market could eventually support it (as with, say, mass transit or infrastructure projects). But this is ridiculous – it’s state-sponsored profit guarantees for no public gain.

  3. Mary says

    John Blair is a very smart guy. He finds it necessary to be a thorn in some important sides, and God bless him for it. There should be more like him, but unfortunately it’s a hard road to travel.

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