The Department of Energy held a public hearing on August 30, concerning the draft EA on the Utah Coal and Biomass Fueled project, (gasification plant), planned for Kanab. They were holding the meeting in compliance with the National Energy Policy Act. The draft EA has been distributed, and September 16 will be the end of the formal comment period. They came up with a finding of No Significant Impact.

Dr. Dan Driscoll, DOE tech manager for fuels, hydrogen and Syngas, office of fossil energy, said the project was a Congressional earmark initiated by Senator Bob Bennett on September 30, 2009. The agreement was achieved on September 27, 2010. “In this case, it has not been competitively evaluated,” said Driscoll. He added that the DOE portion was $2.4 million and Viresco’s share was $601,000. The EA will provide details on emissions, estimates, environmental impacts, etc. for review.

Dr. Arun Raju, (Viresco) spoke concerning project details. He said they hope to design, burn and test at five tons a day capacity. Then they will evaluate carbon conversion and Syngas composition. He said the research facility will enhance the knowledge base and help move the technology.

Some comments during the public hearing portion:

John Jeffries – “Why the location?” Specific concern was that the resource of water wasn’t considered in depth; and that washes and gulches all flow somewhere (contaminated run-off).

Victor Cooper – questioned the lack of jobs that Viresco would provide. He couldn’t believe Viresco would fit into Kanab’s vision. He felt planning and zoning had not asked the right questions concerning the smoke stack height, and they had been negligent when they said yes to the conditional use permit. “The process was not done by the city council and was not undertaken in the most reasonable manner.”

Marlene Barnes – “This project does not belong in Kanab.”

Jesse Johnson – He talked about the wastewater and the potential for contamination. He also worried about toxic ash.

Catherine Ives – Once this plant is built, we all get to be guinea pigs.

Bill Cole – He expressed concern that people are getting led around by people from California.

Roger Hoverman – questioned property tax revenue on the project, since the project is to be built on SITLA land. He felt the EA was insufficient.

Mike Noel, Utah House Representative – said the state policy was to embrace technology. He stressed the large untapped coal reserves here and that he (presumably Guthrie) will bring a lot of people here to evaluate this technology.

Alan Beebe – I don’t believe this should be built in Kanab. He stressed that a lot of what was in the EA should have come out in the beginning.