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Petition Drive to Challenge Coal Gasification Plant

December 21, 2007

South Heart, ND – Residents around the small western North Dakota town of South Heart are unhappy about plans to build a coal gasification plant nearby. The proposed site also is within 15 miles of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Concerned citizens want an environmental impact study done before Stark County Commissioners make zoning changes required to build the plant. A hearing is planned for January 3 to determine if land for the proposed plant can be rezoned from agricultural to industrial.

Among opponents of the plant proposal is Mary Hodell, whose family farm is just two miles from the site. Her two children have asthma.

"There's going to be dust, there are going to be all kinds of air pollution and hazardous unregulated chemicals being released into the air. You know, I have a lot of concerns."

Hodell says she'd like to see other forms of energy developed.

"There are better ways of economic development. You could put a wind farm there. No roads would be affected; there would be no pollution and less noise and dust."

Hodell says most of the profits would not stay in North Dakota since the two companies proposing the plant are Texas-based Great Northern Power Development and Pennsylvania-based Allied Syngas. Backers of the proposal, however, say it will bring jobs and economic development to the area.

Dick Layman/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - ND