By Ad Crable, Bay Journal News Service
A Texas-based energy company wants to build a $6 billion facility that would produce gasoline from natural gas near the Susquehanna River in northeastern Pennsylvania.
The plant would be built on part of 3,000-acre abandoned coal mine site, which the company says it will rehabilitate.
Nacero, founded in 2015, says its facility in Luzerne County, along with two other plants in Arizona and Texas, will produce the country’s first zero- and low-carbon footprint gasoline for everyday cars and trucks at competitive prices. Construction at the Pennsylvania site would begin by 2024.
The company would produce gasoline from two sources of natural gas. One would be natural gas piped in from in the hydraulically fractured or “fracked” natural gas in Marcellus shale. Compared to petroleum gasoline, the company claims, the gas-derived fuel would have half the carbon lifecycle footprint—counting extraction, production, distribution and consumption. A second source would be methane gas released and captured from municipal landfills, decomposing animal waste and sewage plants. That gasoline would have a zero-carbon lifecycle footprint, according to the company.
Both fuels would be free of sulfur, one of the main pollutants from refined-oil gasoline that is a precursor to smog and has health impacts.
Under a law passed in 2020 to entice new petrochemical companies to locate in Pennsylvania’s fracking regions, Nacero would get about $6.7 million in tax breaks from the state, per year, for 25 years.
Not everyone is on board, however. A coalition of 16 local and statewide environmental groups on Dec. 21 came out in opposition to the project. They said there is no evidence to back up Nacero’s claims of such large carbon-footprint reductions.
“The environmental community is concerned that the proposed [project] will be the first in a new wave of proposals for fracked gas related projects marketed as good for the climate,” a spokesperson for the coalition said, “but that instead will pollute local communities while emitting significant amounts of greenhouse gases and expanding the fracked gas industry.”