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Posted: Tuesday, November 6, 2007 12:00 am

After years of work and numerous reschedulings for release of the host site for the $1.5 billion FutureGen demonstration project, the date for that revelation has been pushed back again — to Dec. 17.

Odessa is one of only four sites still in the running for the near-zero emissions coal-burning power plant. Jewett in East Texas is another. The other two are Tuscola and Mattoon, both in Illinois.

“I don’t think this has any impact on us,” Neil McDonald, economic development director of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce, said. “We apparently have gotten all the questions answered, all the blanks filled in.”

He said the local Permian Basin FutureGen Task Force workers have had “no contact with the FutureGen Alliance in about a week or 10 days. The state people are doing all the work right now.”

The reason for the latest delay, McDonald said, appears to be that “the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just cannot release their study yet.”

He said the FutureGen Alliance “does not want to make the announcement until the EPA has released its decision.”

The Odessa site is located at Penwell in western Ector County. The FutureGen power plant, which would utilize innovative clean coal technology to generate electricity, would produce CO2 and hydrogen as byproducts. CO2 would be transported in existing pipelines to University of Texas land in Pecos County where it would be sequestered underground in a brine aquifer.

McDonald also speculated this latest delay “may positively impact us.”

He noted that some of the people in Illinois “are upset about it.”

Hoxie Smith, project coordinator for the FutureGen effort, said the delay apparently is directly linked to the Department of Energy needing to get the environmental reports completed.

“The fastest they had ever done an EIS report was 18 months,” Smith noted. “And this time they needed to do four in less than 18 months.”

Smith said he would only be concerned “if they push the announcement past the holidays.”

Odessa, TX

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