Opinion Pieces

Odessa Offers Clean Committment to Coal

Midland Reporter Telegram, by Congressman Mike Conaway

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Washington, June 24, 2007 | comments
In the heart of the nation's crude oil production, the friendly city of Odessa leads the way in energy diversification.

The Odessa/Penwell site and the Jewett/Heart of the Brazos site remain two of the final four finalists' competing for the FutureGen initiative, a public-private partnership to develop the first zero-emission coal-fired power plant.

The Permian Basin has long been a leader in energy production and research. The friendly, hard-working people of West Texas recognize the need for alternative sources of energy, and they have shown through the support of this initiative that they are dedicated to helping improve our nation's energy security, leading the way to energy independence.

Odessa is the natural choice for the FutureGen site, not only because of its diverse energy expertise, but also because of its extensive knowledge in handling carbon dioxide in enhanced oil recovery. We all agree that too much carbon dioxide is being released into our atmosphere. While FutureGen is important to reduce America's production of carbon dioxide, it is essential for coal-fired, electricity-producing plants in countries like China and India. Without clean-burning coal-fired plants, China and India will produce more carbon dioxide than the United States is able to reduce. The U.S. has more than 250 years supply of coal that is ready for use in generating electricity, leaving us with more energy than the Middle East has oil. FutureGen's coal gasification can eliminate pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, and convert them into useable byproducts such as fertilizers. In the future, FutureGen might also become a model for hydrogen production facilities for use in automobiles.

Last week, the FutureGen Environmental Impact Study for the Odessa, Penwell site was released. I remain positive that this site has the most positive impact on the environment. Odessa possesses all the requirements necessary to make FutureGen a success: technical expertise, ready and willing partners in the energy industry, and major power markets. Also of importance, there is an abundance of water available for a generation facility of this size. The Odessa site has more than 12 million gallons of water per day available through two lines. In addition to the natural advantages of the remoteness of the site, FutureGen will receive support from the areas years of expertise in handling CO2 for enhanced oil recovery, providing a sound infrastructure and ensuring that CO2 is always handled in an environmentally sensitive manner.

I want to extend my thanks to the citizens of Odessa for throwing their full support behind the FutureGen initiative. Their futuristic outlook and willingness to embrace alternative sources of energy is commendable. The efforts that the Permian Basin have put together for this project is extraordinary and have proved that Odessa is the best possible site for FutureGen. I will continue working with the selection team at the FutureGen alliance, as well as the Department of Energy to bring this important project to West Texas.

The FutureGen Initiative is a $1 billion government/industry partnership to design, build and operate an emission-free, coal-fired electric and hydrogen production plant. The 275-megawatt prototype plant will serve as a large scale engineering laboratory for testing new clean power, carbon capture, and coal-to-hydrogen technologies. It will be the cleanest fossil fuel-fired power plant in the world. Numerous cities across Texas submitted proposals to the state of Texas with hopes of bringing the $1 billion project to their community.
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