By Evan Shields, Evansville Courier & Press

- Legislation to grant eminent domain for a carbon dioxide pipeline starting at the proposed Rockport, Ind., coal-gasification plant and leading to Texas has cleared the state Senate and is making its way through the House.

It's now assigned to the House Commerce, Energy, Technology and Utilities Committee.

Indiana is the starting point for the pipeline project, which involves many states and is part of the long-discussed coal-to-gas plant's plans.

"The legislation in Indiana is enabling legislation to give them the same authority to construct pipelines," said William Rosenberg, president of E3 Gasification LLC, a company working to develop the project. "That's an integral part of our project."

The pipeline would run underground from the Rockport plant down to Louisiana and Texas. Coal would be burned in Indiana to produce energy, while the carbon dioxide produced would be captured and then pumped through the pipeline, to be injected into oil fields and used to apply pressure to increase oil production.

The bill has been met with some criticism. The Indianapolis-based Citizens Action Coalition keeps a list of what it considers "bad bills," and Senate Bill 115 is the only bill left on that list that has not been voted down.

"Eminent domain is an awesome power to give a private entity," said Kerwin Olson, program director for the coalition. "Granting eminent domain to any private company is reason enough to oppose the bill."

Olson also said there is a problem with the declaration of carbon capture and storage as a public good.

"There are a lot of risks and a lot of unknowns," Olson said, who listed risks including expenses and geographic problems.

E3 Gasification LLC is pursuing federal loans to help finance the project.

"We have been selected to negotiate a detailed contact," Rosenberg said. "We're involved in a whole series of negotiations with (the federal govern-ment)."

The negotiations are one part in an 18-month process to get the pipeline approved. After the 18-month process, which began in November, construction on the plant can begin. Rosenberg expects construction to begin in the end of next year.

Jeff Stake, a professor at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, said the General Assembly granting eminent domain to an outside company doesn't happen all the time, but it is not that rare either.

One of the benefits of the project, Rosenberg said, is that Indiana will get paid for the carbon dioxide that burns off the coal. Another benefit is the jobs created by the project.

Rosenberg expects 1,000 jobs to be created during the construction of the plant. Construction is expected to last three or four years. There will be 300 additional jobs once the plant opens, he said.

Rosenberg said there will be negotiations with people who own the land in Kentucky, regardless of whether the General Assembly passes the eminent domain bill.

"In terms of building the pipeline, it's inevitable that someone will say no. There will be negotiations," Rosenberg said.

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