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Rockport coal-gasification project canceled

Caption: Rockport facility, located in Indiana. Courtesy: Leucadia.  

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management rescinded an air-quality permit for Leucadia National Corp.’s planned Rockport coal gasification plant.

Leucadia requested the permit be rescinded on the plant— which would convert coal to synthetic natural gas — since construction had yet to begin.

“Our project was based on the principle that you never want to have all your eggs in one basket, as natural gas customers do today,” said Mark Lubbers, the project director at the plant. “At today’s gas prices, consumers are doing great. Our plant would have come on line in 2019. My bet is that in 2020, people will wish this plant had been built.”

Under a previous agreement, the state agreed to purchase gas produced at a set rate for 30-years. However, if the state failed to sell the gas for a profit, ratepayers would have to make up for the loss through monthly natural gas bills. Opponents said the deal would cost ratepayers more than a $1 billion over the first eight years of the plant’s operation. Indiana Gasification later disputed that estimate, saying the facility could create 1,500 jobs and provide an additional market to sell the state’s coal. Additionally, supporters consider the project’s death to be a loss to Indiana, while opponents say home heating costs are likely to witness a significant rise, the Indy Star reported.

In 2013, the Indiana General Assembly called for a more thorough review of the contract.

To read the notice to revoke the permit at Rockport, click here.

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