Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne Rutherford and his staff have big dreams of turning Eastern Kentucky coal into liquid fuel and natural gas. They already have funding for research to build plants in the future.
"We didn't want to take a chance," says Rutherford. "We've been working for zero emissions."
The judge found the Synthetic Fuels Plant in North Dakota.
Synfuels, built in 1984, converts six million tons of coal a year into natural gas...and officials say they do it without emissions. Officials say the plant captures the carbon dioxide before it gets in the air and puts it in a pipeline that travels 210 miles underground to Canada and back into the oilfields.
"We can make coal cleaner," says Pike County Energy Coordinator Roger Ford. "When people tell us we can't... we are. They're doing it in North Dakota and when they're doing it in North Dakota folks, we can do it in Kentucky."
Pike County officials plan to bring the same technology here...and pump the carbon dioxide back into Eastern Kentucky natural gas wells.
Officials say if pike county's plant is modeled after North Dakota's it would convert 28 million tons of coal a year, and employ 700 people.