MASON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - A company now has the construction permit to build a "state-of-the-art" coal-to-liquids facility in Mason County, creating more than 250 jobs.
According to a news release from Domestic Synthetic Fuels, the company received a permit from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to build the facility near Point Pleasant.
DSF officials said it will take thousands of workers to build the facility. After construction, the plant will create 130 jobs on-site and 130 coal- mining jobs to supply the raw materials.
"This will have a tremendous economic impact on our county," said John Musgrave, executive director of the Mason County Economic Development Authority. "This will bring jobs and growth to Mason County and the surrounding region."
The facility will turn West Virginia coal and natural gas into ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, aviation fuel, gasoline, and other products.
DSF is a West Virginia-based company. The plant will be the first of its kind in the United States.
The WVDEP issued the permit following a public-comment period and public meetings about the project.
"I'd like to thank not just the DEP, but the community for coming out and supporting this project," DSF lead developer Kevin Whited said in the announcement. "They live here. They turned out, and a lot of them spoke in favor of the facility."
Whited said the company expects to break ground on this project this fall and begin accepting job applications in early 2020. They hope to start the hiring process in the second quarter of 2020.
DSF officials said synthetic fuels that come from coal are more ecologically friendly than fuels that come from petroleum.
"DEP officials approved the Domestic Synthetic Fuels facility as a minor source of emissions, meaning emissions from the facility are minimal under federal and state law," the company said. "Once up and running, Domestic Synthetic Fuels will take 2,500 tons of coal a day, combine it under heat and pressure with a catalyst and hydrogen derived from natural gas to produce more than 10,000 barrels of fuel a day. The self-contained process also will produce other value-added products that can be sold."
Whited emphasized that the project's potential in the natural-gas industry is just as important as the coal industry.
"If you're baking a cake, you need certain ingredients," Whited stated. "You need flour. You need yeast. But one is not more important than the other. You can't leave one out... Natural gas is an essential ingredient."
According to the news release, a chairman from the West Virginia Business & Industry Council has seen technology like this work in China. "It's truly state-of-the-art," Chris Hamilton said. "To be able to turn coal into fuel here in West Virginia can go a long way towards establishing U.S. energy independence and expanding our state's reliance on instate coal supplies."