Harkening back to an abandoned, high profile, public/private sector coal gasification project in his state, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead at a press conference on Friday indicated he wants to rekindle similar like coal gasification projects in the state, drawing on advancements now in commercial operation in China.

On a recent visit to China, Mead said he learned that units of General Electric Corp., which was involved in Wyoming's aborted High Plains project (see Daily GPI, Aug. 1, 2011), have a number of gasification projects that are "already up."

"This has relevance for Wyoming in terms of: (1) we can learn from what is done in China, (2) we now know it is do-able, and (3) we look forward to another opportunity in Wyoming," Mead said. "We hope we can learn from everything they did well and any mistakes they made, and improve upon it if we have one of those projects here."

Mead said based on his rough calculation from his recent visit, China has in operation or under development upward of 100 coal gasification projects.

Separately, Mead recently wrote EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to express his concerns with draft rules aimed at coal, which directly impact Powder River Basin coal found in his state in great abundance. "The rules would effectively require carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), which has been worked on by the state of Wyoming for a long time, and as it stands now the fact is that it is just not commercially viable at that scale," the governor said.

Even if it were commercially viable right now, CCS effectively doubles the cost of coal-fired generation, which makes up more than 40% of the electricity produced in the United States, said Mead, noting his letter to Jackson expressed concerns that the proposed EPA standard would effectively stop rather than improve what Wyoming hopes to do with clean coal technology.

"The way to move forward with clean coal technology in my view is not to set unrealistic standards, but to chip away at it to make sure these (startup) companies stay in business and that they have the profit motive to do that because it is not going to be developed in a vacuum," Mead said. "We also need to encourage the private sector to continue to make improvements.We should encourage that, rather than setting unrealistic standards."

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