Ohio River Clean Fuels

From Global Energy Monitor

Baard Energy is a privately held company based in Vancouver, Washington. This $5 billion plant would produce diesel and jet fuel as well as electricity. The sponsors claim that it would capture and sequester 85% of the CO2 created.[1] The Morning Journal described the proposed diesel production as being "mostly for use by the U.S. military."[2]

In October 2007, Baard entered into a design and engineering contract with AMEC.[3] A permit application was filed with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency on Dec. 19, 2007.[4]

A public hearing is scheduled for May 27 on the wastewater discharge permit that the project proponents are seeking from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. As of early May 2008, a public hearing has not yet been scheduled for the air emission permit. A hearing on a wetlands/stream impact permit has already been completed.[2]

The proposed plant, the Morning Journal reports, will require "25.3 millions of water per day to operate, with the Buckeye Water District to supply 4.2 million gallons per day for specific uses that require treated water. The remaining 21.3 million gallons will be obtained directly by Baard from the Ohio River for use mostly in the cooling system." The proponents state that the project will discharge 9.7 million gallons of treated wastewater per day into the Ohio River.[2]

The project would use the Shell Coal Gasification Process technology under license from Shell U.S. Clean Coal Energy Inc.[5]

The plant is currently awaiting the final air quality permit needed to begin construction. The Ohio EPA is expected to issue or deny the permit by the end of October or early November 2008.[6]

On October 15, 2008, the Sierra Club and the National Resources Defense Council filed an appeal with the Environmental Review Appeals Commission of Ohio over the wastewater permit issued by the Ohio EPA. The appeal states that the permit fails to establish discharge limits based on the best available technology as required by the Clean Water Act and exempts coal-pile runoff discharge from the effluent limits. Provisions were also added that were not in the draft permit and the OEPA issued the permit without compliance requirements for the cooling water intake system. [7][8]

In November 2008, Baard received their final air permits from the Ohio EPA, clearing the way for the plant to proceed. The company expects to begin construction in the spring of 2009.[9]

On March 26, 2009, Baard announced that the company will no longer pursue its application with the Department of Energy's Loan Guarantee Program for the Ohio River project. CEO John Baardson stated that the Sierra Club and NRDC legal challenges would likely delay any DOE funding for years. Baardson said the company "did not think it was worthwhile to put at risk over a million dollars of non-refundable submission fees and associated costs to participate in any federal program that has this much uncertainty."[10]

On March 31, 2010, an OH district court issued its decision in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)/Clean Water Act (CWA) challenge to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' permit for the plant, filed by the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council. In its decision, the court found that the Army Corps properly limited the scope of the federal action it was analyzing to only the wetlands proposed to be filled and that the Corps is not required to consider the broader consequences of construction and operation of the plant under NEPA. On the CWA claim, the court found that the Corps' analysis was reasonable based on the limited record that was before it and the Corps is not required to perform additional studies. On April 21, 2010, Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council filed an appeal of the district court's opinion with the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The opening brief is due June 1, 2010.[11]

In October 2010, Baard Energy said it looks to begin construction of the plant by late spring or early summer 2010. CEO John Baardson said the first phase of the plant will take three years. Investors in the coal and energy markets have committed $2.5 billion. The announcement came after the Columbiana County Port Authority announced its memorandum of understanding with Planck Trading LLC of Boca Raton, Florida, which will finance the purchase of 522 acres of property for the project. Planck will pay $5.1 million to acquire the property. The plant will use coal and other alternate feedstocks, such as waste wood, to produce an estimated 52,000 barrels daily of synfuel, as well as naphtha, by using the Fischer-Tropsch coal-to-gas synthesis process. Naphtha is a low-octane gasoline used as a feedstock in the chemical industry.[12]

In October 2011, Baard said it will use natural gas, rather than liquid coal, as its feedstock for the Ohio River Clean Fuels Project. The switch was part of a negotiated settlement with the State of Ohio amidst legal challenges by NRDC and Sierra Club over Baard's pollution permits.[13] The switch closes what would have been a new market for Ohio’s high-sulfur coal. Pursuant to the agreement, NRDC and Sierra Club will then move to dismiss their appeals once the permits are modified.[14]

Greenhouse Gas Limits in 2007 Energy Act

On January 30, 2008, Representative Henry Waxman, Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Tom Davis, Ranking Minority Member of the committee, wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, requesting information on how the Department of Defense's plans for coal-based synfuels would comply with new greenhouse gas limits imposed on federal agencies by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.[15]

Project Details

Sponsor: Baard Energy
Location: Wellsville, OH
Capacity: 200 MW and 35,000 barrels per day
Type: Electricity and coal-to-liquids
Projected in service: 2013
Status: No longer a coal project (2011)


Citizen Groups



  1. Current Projects: Ohio River Clean Fuels, Baard Energy coroproate website, accessed January 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Tom Giambroni, "Wastewater discharge hearing next hurdle for Baard plant", Morning Journal (Ohio), May 5, 2008.
  3. AMEC Paragon Keeps US$5 Billion Alternative Fuels Project Moving, Baard Energy press release, October 2, 2007.
  4. Ohio River Clean Fuels LLC, Ohio EPA website, accessed January 2008.
  5. Baard Energy, "Untitled", Media Release, September 26, 2007.
  6. Energy plant needs 1 permit, The Vindicator, October 14, 2008
  7. Appeal is filed over second permit for Baard Energy fuel plant, The Vindicator, October 16, 2008
  8. Green groups challenge Baard permit,The Review, October 17, 2008
  9. "Hundreds of Jobs On The Way In Wellsville," WYTV News, November 20, 2008.
  10. "Baard Announces Ohio River Clean Fuels, LLC Pulls out of Department of Energy Loan Guarantee Program," Baard Energy, March 26, 2009.
  11. "Stopping the Coal Rush", Sierra Club. (This is a Sierra Club list of new coal plant proposals.)
  12. Jeremy Lydic, "Baard Energy CEO Says Financing in Place" Business Journal Daily, Oct. 25, 2010.
  13. Brian Siu, "Liquid Coal: A Bad Bet" NRDC, Oct. 18, 2011.
  14. Bob Petz, "Controversial Plans for Coal Gasification Plant in Ohio Scrapped" ecology, October 17, 2011.
  15. Letter from Henry Waxman and Tom Davis to Robert Gates, January 30, 2008 (PDF file)

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