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"Gilberton Coal-to-Clean Fuels and Power Project" Environmental Impact Statement Process
In 2002, the U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Coal Power Initiative (CCPI) selected WMPI's proposed coal-to-oil refinery to receive $100 million in taxpayer funded loans.
The Department of Energy (DOE) cannot loan this much money without first developing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The NEPA law requires that they develop this statement and hold public hearings in each step of the development of the EIS. The EIS process is primarily a disclosure process. There is no requirement that money not be spent if the environmental impacts are too severe. Theoretically, the EIS can say that the refinery will kill half of the residents of Schuylkill County and it's still legal for the DOE to provide the funding.
The information made available in the EIS process can be helpful to influence decision-makers at all levels of government. Also, the project cannot be funded until the Final EIS comes out. NEPA requires that the DOE responds to every comment.
The first step in the process is called "scoping." Hearings were held in 2003 so that the public could let DOE know what the scope of the EIS should be. This helps DOE identify issues that they ought to be addressing in the EIS. The Draft EIS was supposed to come out within a handful of months from the scoping hearings. After several comments were offered by concerned community members and environmental advocates, it took over two years just for the draft EIS to come out.
Even more comments were submitted on the Draft EIS and it could be a while before DOE managed to address all of these comments in order to publish their Final EIS.
Documents relating to the development of the Environmental Impact Statement for the Department of Energy proposal to provide a $100 million loan to the WMPI coal-to-oil refinery
Supplement to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement released January 10, 2007 (8Mb PDF file)