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Natural gas plant merits funding for study

SEDA-COG awarded grants for ‘historic project’

RENOVO — A proposed, multi-million-dollar natural gas synthesis plant in Western Clinton County that would create hundreds of jobs is closer to reality thanks to two grants awarded to SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG).

SEDA-COG applied for and was awarded the grants on behalf of KeyState Opportunity and Frontier Natural Resources, both of Bellefonte, to conduct third-party studies for the KeyState Natural Gas Synthesis Plant in West Keating Township.

A $471,270 U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant will help fund a $785,450 phase II engineering study related to the design, permitting, construction of the plant as well as workforce development.

An $84,000 USDA Rural Business Development grant will help fund a market study to validate product demand, logistics, and economics.

If built, the plant would provide hydrogen, ammonia, and urea for industrial, medical, agriculture, and transportation uses. It would create a combined 800 construction and permanent jobs.

SEDA-COG Executive Director John Brown said this project can greatly impact the local economy and thanked the granting agencies, particularly EDA Regional Director Linda Cruz-Carnall, EDA Economic Development Specialist Chris Casper, and USDA PA Rural Development’s State Director Curt Coccodrilli.

“SEDA-COG is pleased to partner in this effort that could bring hundreds of jobs to the area and directly reenergize the local economy, especially in this difficult time,” Brown said. “We thank the USDA and EDA for seeing the economic merits of the project and awarding the grants.”

KeyState CEO Perry Babb described the project’s impacts.

“KeyState is a historic project in both economic and environmental impacts. Onsite Marcellus natural gas production, combined with state-of-the-art methane emissions remediation, is used to create low-carbon and GHG-reducing products, and great long-term manufacturing jobs. CO2 is captured and stored a mile underground, a first in Pennsylvania, and manufacturing becomes the new ‘green jobs,’ and a low-carbon future for natural gas is born,” Babb said.

If the studies confirm the plant’s feasibility, phase III final engineering will commence and SEDA-COG will help identify funding to build out the necessary infrastructure, as KeyState finalizes investors to help build the plant.

“Both of these studies will help to attract investors and public funding,” Brown said.

The plant would be in a federal opportunity zone which provides tax benefits for investing capital gains in low-income community census tracts. The incentive offers deferral, reduction, and potential elimination of certain federal capital gains taxes.

The plant’s construction could be upward of $400 million. The studies are expected to be completed early next year.

The project that could potentially generate 600 to 800 jobs during construction and 150 to 200 permanent jobs.

A natural gas synthesis plant uses the methane in natural gas as a feedstock to produce a range of products used in agriculture, industry, medicines and transportation.

A synthesis plant is not a “cracker plant,” Babbs told The Express previously.

The majority of CO2 generated in gas synthesis processes is captured and used in the making of other products.

More than a dozen similar plants have been built and safely operated across the U.S. in the last 30 years.

“The economic development impact would be profound and generational,” Babb said earlier this year. “Commercial and other activity generated would go beyond Clinton County, impacting areas of Cameron, Centre and Clearfield, local rail siding and road upgrades, housing for the construction workforce proposed to be converted to permanent affordable housing, coordination of workforce development programs with the surrounding county high schools, vo-tech schools as well as Lock Haven, Penn College and Penn State University, substantial research activities with the surrounding universities and major wildlife habitat enhancement in reclaimed mining and other areas funded,” he continued.

Dozens of local, county, state and federal elected and public officials have been engaged and have given critical guidance and support to the project concept, Babb said.

The facility is planned for a 30-acre portion of a private 7,000-acre tract in West Keating Township near Frontier Natural Resources’ new LNG plant (liquified natural gas). The land is located in a Federal Qualified Opportunity Zone.

“There are still many, many hurdles to cross, but there seems to be no fatal flaws at this point and we are cautiously optimistic” Babb said.

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