LETTER: Gasification project getting needed review

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More than six years ago, then Gov. Mitch Daniels made the announcement that a synthetic-gas plant was to be built in southwest Indiana. The project was to bring hundreds of jobs and use Indiana coal to produce synthetic gas at a price lower than natural gas.

The carbon dioxide that would be produced would be captured and sent to Louisiana through a pipeline. It would be pumped into existing oil wells for enhanced oil recovery.

The plant was to be in operation sometime in 2010 or 2011. The Rockport site was selected and negotiations with the state’s natural gas suppliers started. When the suppliers refused to sign a 30-year contract with Leucadia, Gov. Daniels and the Indiana Finance Authority came up with a contract guaranteeing the purchase of the syn-fuel by the state.  

At that time a group of Spencer County citizens concerned about the ramifications of this project formed the Spencer County Citizens for Quality of Life.  

You may have come to one or more of the informational meetings.

You may have signed the petition against the project.

You may have attended the various hearings held by various governmental agencies or you may have expressed your concerns about this project at those hearings.

You may have written a letter to the editor expressing your concerns and objections.

You may be against this project because of environmental concerns or because you use natural gas in your home and the state contract with the company will pass on the increased cost of the syn-gas to natural gas users.

You may have felt the project was a done deal and that there wasn’t anything that could be done about the project by those not in power.

You may own a business and are concerned about publicly expressing your objections.

You may have only privately expressed your concerns about the project and your support for those fighting against it.

Whether you have been active in the fight against this proposed project from the beginning or you are just new to the struggle, whether you have been active in all of the efforts of Spencer County Citizens for Quality of Life or you have been part of the silent majority on the sidelines, now is the time for the silent majority to let your voices be heard.

Our new legislators will be taking a serious look at the state contract with IG-Leucadia.

There are bills in both the Senate and House which would help protect residential natural-gas consumers for increased prices in a timelier manner. The contract now states that if the syn-gas price were higher than natural-gas prices over the life of the contract, 30 years, that the company would reimburse the difference at that time.

The legislation that is being proposed would change that to an average cost difference every three years with the company making the reimbursement at that time, not at the end of the 30-year contract.

The project is not a done deal. The courts have thrown out portions of the contract.

The Department of Energy has not completed its environmental impact statement; the Department of Energy has not awarded any of the $2 billion that Leucadia is trying to get; the Department of Energy has not approved or completed any study of the proposed pipeline.

We are not alone in this struggle. Other groups in our area and state continue to be involved.

More important locally, we now have some business people actually questioning large industrial projects like this when we should be trying to attract smaller businesses into our county. Businesses that will bring in families to live in Spencer County, not businesses that cause families to lose their property and homes because of being near large industrial projects.

Spencer County already has two large industries and the amount of toxic pollutants released into the air, soil and water by these two alone has placed the county as the second-most polluted county in the state.

Now is the time for the silent majority to let their voices be heard.

Please contact your local as well as other legislators to express your objection to the gasification project in Spencer County and if the project is not killed, express your support to the proposed changes to the contract to protect Indiana residential-natural-gas users.

With the natural gas discoveries made in recent years the price of natural gas is selling for approximately $3.50 per million BTU. The synthetic gas estimates are that it will be $6.60 to $7 per million British Thermal Units when produced.

The Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Taylor is SB 480.

The Senate bill sponsored by Sen. Eckerty is SB 510.

Contacts are:
• Sen. Lindel Hume, (317) 232-9523, e-mail S48@in.gov
• Rep. Lloyd Arnold, (800) 382-9842, e-mail h74@in.gov.
• Rep. Ron Bacon, (800) 382-9842, e-mail h75@in.gov.