West Virginia has some really nice state parks and a Greenbrier resort (and former famous congressional bunker hideaway) that is second to none. But the state certainly isn’t top of mind when it comes to economic development and innovation.
A headline that screams "W. Va. Takes Lead in Future of Fuel" will certainly draw attention. The plan: take advantage of the state’s greatest natural resource — coal — and turn it into gasoline and methanol in the first project of its kind in the United States. Incidentally, one of the partners (a Houston-based company) has already helped build a coal-to-liquids plant in China.
The $800 million project will provide security for West Virginia’s expansive coal industry, create additional jobs and potentially be part of the long-term solution to our country’s energy challenges. The president of Consol Energy, based in Pittsburgh, goes a little overboard when he terms West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin "one of the few governors in the 50 states who can spell coal."
Indiana has coal, maybe not as much as West Virginia, but ample supplies. It is crafting an entrepreneurial path of its own with Duke Energy’s coal gasification plant in Edwardsport. Can our state be a player in the coal-to-liquids game? We’re not sure.
The West Virginia project is intriguing. Read about it here.