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ND coal-to-fuel plant gets 4th extension

BISMARCK (AP) -- Developers of a coal-to-liquid fuel factory proposed for western North Dakota have been granted a fourth extension of state aid to study the project.

The extension is through the end of the year. Project spokesman David Straley says that a decision on whether to build the $4 billion project depends on a change of political climate and favorable coal legislation.

The state Industrial Commission in 2006 committed up to $10 million in state aid from coal tax collections to help weigh the project's potential. About $1.3 million has been used so far.

The plant would use low-grade but abundant lignite coal from North Dakota to produce 460 million gallons of gasoline annually. The factory also would generate electricity for markets in Minnesota and Wisconsin.