Inside INdiana Business

Legal challenge continues against coal-to-diesel plant

DALE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Opponents of a proposed $2 billion coal-to-diesel facility in Spencer County are appealing a decision by the Indiana Office of Environmental Adjudication. Southwestern Indiana Citizens for Quality of Life and Valley Watch Inc. had previously sought to block an air permit for the project from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

The facility is being developed by Delaware-based Riverview Energy Corp. First announced in 2018, the Dale plant, according to the company, will be the first direct coal-hydrogenation refinery in the U.S., having the ability to produce 4.8 million barrels of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, as well as 2.5 million barrels of naptha.

In a December ruling, the OEA said the opponents “failed to present substantial evidence required to meet its burden that IDEM improperly issued the Permit to Riverview.” 

In the appeal, filed in Marion County Superior Court, the opponents say the OEA committed legal errors by upholding the permit.

“In the decision of the OEA, we were held to an impossible standard,” said Mary Hess, President of SWICQL. “The responsibility of proving engineering and technical issues should not fall on the shoulders of community organizations. We will pursue every avenue available to give a voice to those who support us, as we continue to shed light on the fact that Riverview Energy, having had their permit for over 19 months, has yet to break ground.”

In a statement to Inside INdiana Business, a spokesperson for Riverview said the company believes the court acted in compliance with the law and established procedures.

“The adjudication court’s decision was highly thorough, based on established legal precedent, and involved months of deliberation after nearly a week of testimony provided from both sides by engineering and regulatory experts. The court provided the plaintiffs with months of extensions to develop their case, and ample opportunity to present their case when the time finally came for all parties to be heard,” the spokesperson said. “We now move forward with our next steps in bringing this innovative hydrogen-energy project to Dale and the Spencer County community.”

The spokesperson says the next steps in the project include plans to break ground in Dale before the fourth quarter. 

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