Groups appeal Riverview coal-to-diesel air permit


DALE — Two groups concerned about potentially “dangerous air pollution” from a proposed coal-to-diesel plant for Dale have filed an appeal to an air quality permit the Indiana Department of Environmental Management approved for the project last month.

Earthjustice prepared the appeal on behalf of Southwestern Indiana Citizens for Quality of Life and Valley Watch.

Riverview Energy plans to build a $2.5 billion coal-to-diesel, commonly called C2D, plant in Dale that would be the first direct coal-hydrogenation project in the U.S. The process, Riverview has said, would make ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, but would not burn or gasify coal.

The plant would use 1.6 million tons of coal and produce 4.8 million barrels of clean diesel and 2.5 million barrels of Naphtha each year.

IDEM approved the project’s air permit June 11.

According to the press release announcing the appeal, the refinery “would emit massive amounts of hazardous air pollution every year, including known carcinogens like benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, in addition to significant amounts of particulate matter and other pollutants that contribute to asthma. The refinery also would emit more than two million tons of greenhouse gases every year.”

According to the groups’ appeal of the permit, “petitioners have members who live, work, recreate and breathe in Spencer County, and would be aggrieved and adversely affected by emissions from the Refinery that the Permit authorizes.”

The appeal claims the permit is unlawful on six counts because:

• Its issuance violated public participation requirements;

• IDEM has no basis to determine the refinery’s air pollution impacts;

• It relies on deficient and erroneous emissions calculations;

• It relies on deficient and inaccurate air quality modeling;

• It does not require the best available control technology for certain pollutants; and

• It does not address flaring emissions adequately.

The appeal asks that the Indiana Office of Environmental Adjudication consider the appeal by assigning the matter a hearing. Petitioners request that the court vacate IDEM’s decision to issue the permit and declare the permit invalid.

“This permit is deeply flawed,” Earthjustice attorney Lauren Piette said in a press release. “Riverview Energy must not be allowed to site this dangerous project near vulnerable communities, including an elementary school and nursing home.”

Mary Hess, president of Southwestern Indiana Citizens for Quality of Life, added that the refinery would be in close proximity to residential homes, including hers.

“This refinery would be adding to several facilities already in our community emitting toxic air pollution,” she said. “We won’t let our neighborhoods become a sacrifice zone for public health.”

To learn more about the permit appeal process, visit

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