The developers of a planned $2 billion coal-to-diesel facility in Spencer County have received another win in the legal fight over the project’s air permit. Delaware-based Riverview Energy Corp. says the Indiana Office of Environmental Adjudication has denied a petition by opposition groups seeking to block the permit.
In March 2018, Riverview announced plans for what it called the first-of-its-kind facility in the town of Dale. The plant, the company says, would be able to produce 4.8 million barrels of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, as well as 2.5 million barrels of naptha.
The final air permit for the facility was issued by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management in June 2019. The issuance of the permit was challenged by Southwestern Indiana Citizens for Quality of Life and Valley Watch Inc.
In its ruling, the court said the petitioners “have failed to present substantial evidence required to meet its burden that IDEM improperly issued the Permit to Riverview. Respondents IDEM and Riverview Energy Corporation presented substantial evidence require to meet their burden of showing that the Permit was issued in compliance with all state and federal statutes, regulations and guidance.”
Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a similar ruling. The denial was not appealed by the August deadline.
“We are pleased with the court’s decision, of course, and had full confidence in the regulatory diligence that the Indiana Department of Environmental Management applied in vetting and issuing our air permit,” Gregory Merle, president of Riverview Energy, said in a news release. “It was a full victory on this front, and our next steps are to move forward with the development phase. That will be a victory for the people of Spencer County, Indiana and the region.”
Southwestern Indiana Citizens for Quality of Life President Mary Hess issued the following statement regarding the recent ruling to Inside INdiana Business:
Even this decision acknowledges that the cancer risk from this project exceeds the level of concern set by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. We are assessing our options and will soon decide our course of action.
We think the real question is whether the sponsor has the necessary commitment and resources to move forward.
Riverview began this project a decade ago in Vermillion County. After six years in Vermillion County and no ground broken, they began their search in Spencer County. Now four years later, there is still no ground broken. How much time will the State of Indiana and the town of Dale continue be willing to waste dealing with this project?
Ultimately, we are confident this project will never be built.
Riverview Energy says the Dale plant will be the first direct coal-hydrogenation refinery in the U.S. When operational, the facility is expected to produce diesel fuel that is 30% cleaner than federal standards.
“The plant will have a significantly lower carbon foot-print than other technologies, and nothing will go to waste,” Merle says. “All the plant’s products will be marketable – and with stricter federal regulations in auto fuel efficiency and now in global marine shipping, the market is prime for this innovative process that uses the U.S’s vast coal resources in a highly clean process.”
You can view the Office of Environmental Adjudication’s ruling in the document below: