CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Aiming to develop new export markets for a fuel source hit by declining domestic demand, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead on Monday signed an agreement calling for cooperation between the state and a consortium of Japanese companies in researching clean-coal technology.
Mead signed a memorandum of understanding in Cheyenne with the president of the Japan Coal Energy Center. It represents about 120 manufacturing and energy companies, including Mitsubishi Materials Corp. and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd.
Mead said he expects a conference will take place in Wyoming, the nation’s largest coal-producing state, within a year that would allow Japanese researchers to work on coal issues with researchers from the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources.
He said his administration does not want the state to just “be a leader in the production of coal, we want to be a leader in the solutions for coal here in Wyoming.”
Wyoming’s state government depends heavily on revenues from production of coal and other fuels.
Wyoming also has been stymied in recent years in its push to send coal by train to ports in the Pacific Northwest for export to Asia. Opponents in Washington and Oregon are concerned about train traffic with dust, noise and possible environmental hazards including global warming created abroad by coal-fired plants.
Mead said making progress in reducing emissions from coal plants could help Wyoming export coal to meet demand from Japan. He said the research will focus on cutting CO2 emissions through capturing it.
“As we find solutions for Wyoming, the country and the world for coal — which is what we’re to do here — it certainly makes the lift for getting ports open in places like the State of Washington easier when we can point to it and say, ‘we’re not just making this ask, we actually are doing the heavy lifting in terms of trying to find solutions for coal,”‘ Mead said.