IDEM approves coal-to-diesel air permit


DALE — The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has approved an air permit for Riverview Energy to build a $2.5 billion coal-to-diesel plant in Dale.

After nearly a year and a half of review, the permit was issued Tuesday, according to an air quality permit search on the state agency’s website.

See the air permit here.

The plant would be the U.S.’s first direct coal-hydrogenation project. 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.

“This is an integral step in the process of bringing the direct coal-hydrogenation plant to Dale,” Riverview Energy President Gregory Merle said in a press release.

Riverview announced early last year that they planned to bring the plant to more than 500 acres of land annexed into the Town of Dale in 2017. The Lincolnland Economic Development Corporation is responsible for recruiting the company to the area.

Proponents of Riverview say the plant would boost the local economy and bring much-needed jobs to the area.

Riverview has said the plant will bring 225 permanent, high-skilled jobs and more than 2,000 temporary construction jobs.

However, those in opposition — which include advocacy groups Valley Watch, Earthjustice and Southwestern Indiana Citizens for Quality of Life — believe it creates environmental, health and quality of life concerns.

Mary Hess, leader of Southwestern Indiana Citizens for Quality of Life, said that even with air permit approval, her group will not stop their fight.

“We’re going to keep going,” she said. “We’ve got some irons in the fire that we’re working on. We’re going to be very vigilant on this as it moves forward or if it doesn’t move forward, whichever way.”

A summary handed out at an IDEM public hearing in December, stated that IDEM’s role in the air permitting process is to determine if the permit complies with federal and state laws. It stated that if a permit applicant, such as Riverview, “demonstrates that it will be able to comply with all federal and state laws regarding air pollution control, IDEM is required by law to issue the air permit.”

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