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Letter: PSC must do its job

Believing the GTL Energy plant is not connected to a coal mine requires ignoring a lot of facts.

South Heart Coal, LLC put together more than 5,300 acres of coal leases adjacent to the current GTLE site in 2003. Great Northern Power Development owned many of those mineral acres. Obviously, mining was the intent.

When GTLE showed up in Stark County, it was arm in arm with South Heart Coal. According to a press release issued jointly with GTLE on April 3, 2008, Allied Syngas and Great Northern Power Development said GTLE was "selected" to "provide coal beneficiation technology for their proposed coal-gasification project" by producing "high quality stable briquettes with less moisture and higher energy content from the South Heart lignite."

When Dakota Resource Council and some local landowners complained that GTLE wasn't part of the South Heart mining permit, South Heart Coal withdrew the permit they'd worked on for months.

Rich Voss, a South Heart Coal spokesperson, told the Dickinson Press (March 26) the permit was withdrawn because of the complaint -- not because there were no more plans for mining, but to "keep both our energy project and GTLE's demonstration plant moving forward as scheduled."

It's amazing that the Public Service commissioners can say with a straight face that GTLE has no connection to mining in the South Heart area.

It's the PSC's job to oversee coal mining operations, not bend the rules to make it easier for them. The ranching and farming families of South Heart who will be directly affected every day of their lives by this coal mine need the PSC to do its job.

Linda Weiss, assistant treasurer, Dakota Resource Council, Belfield