Voinovich, leaders talk clean coal

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Leaders in economic development, government and business met with Sen. George Voinovich in Pomeroy on Monday to discuss three clean coal projects in southeastern Ohio.

One of the projects discussed was the ongoing efforts of Atlantic Energy Ventures to build a coal to liquid facility in Lawrence County along County Road 1A near Haverhill.

Lawrence County Commissioner Jason Stephens said the meeting brought officials together from every level of government.

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“It was a discussion that lasted nearly two hours,” Stephens said. “The senator was listening to the various projects, one being the Lawrence County project.”

With the federal government calling on industry to find alternative sources of energy to reduce dependence on foreign oil, proponents see coal gasification as an opportunity for regional development.

Bill Dingus, executive director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corp., said regional cooperation is a necessity.

“No. 1, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia must work together,” he said. “It was really a good discussion. We talked about some of the barriers, CO2 and other issues.”

Carbon Dioxide is the most prominent greenhouse gas in the Earth’s atmosphere. Greenhouse gases are responsible for the “greenhouse effect,” or the warming of the Earth’s surface.

Stephens said it was refreshing to see such a diversified group tackle the problems.

“It’s good for the senator to see the local leaders coming together. There were people on the local, state and federal levels together with developers talking about hurdles and making these projects go,” he said. “That’s really important for projects of this magnitude. That’s the kind of cooperation that’s needed.”

Dingus said it is difficult to gauge a timeline for the Lawrence County project, which he said would create about 2,000 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs.

“In economic development you just try to keep moving forward every day,” said Dingus, who said Atlantic Energy Ventures - formerly CME North American Merchant Energy — is committed to using local labor.

State Sen. Joy Padgett, State Reps. Clyde Evans and Jimmy Stewart, Atlantic Energy Ventures CEO Bill Martin and Energy Advisor to the Governor Mark Shanahan were among those also in attendance.