Eielson Air Force Base Coal-to-Liquids

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{{#badges: CoalSwarm}}In September 2008 the Senate Appropriation defense subcommittee approved a proposal by Alaskan Republic Senator Ted Stevens for the inclusion of $10 million for a study on locating a coal-to-liquids (CTL) fuel plant at Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported that the funding was included in the $488 billion draft defense spending bill for fiscal year 2009 with the support of the U.S. Air Force.[1]

The proposed project was described as being "capable of producing up to 40,000 barrels of coal-to-liquid fuel per day." Under the Stevens plan a new railway track would be required between Healy and Delta Junction to allow Alaska Railroad to carry coal from Healy to Eielson. The bill also provided for the military to double the military's five-year leasing authority and authorise it to "enter into a long-term supply agreement with the Usibelli coal mine."[1]

Stevens stated that his motivation for the proposed project was as a way of protecting Eielson Air Force Base and Fort Wainwright from future base consolidation and closure rounds. "Unless we can guarantee the military that they are going to have an inexpensive supply of fuel, those bases are in danger," Stevens told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

In May 2011, a "study on the feasibility and operational impacts of locating a 40,000 barrel-per-day coal-to-liquid plant on Eielson" was conducted.[2]

Project Details

Sponsor: U.S. Air Force
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
Size:up to 40,000 barrels per day
Type: Coal-to-Liquids
Projected in service:
Status: Early Development

Plans to develop CTL plants uncertain

On October 21, 2009, the Air Force announced it had cancelled plans to build coal-to-liquids fuel plants as a means of producing alternative jet fuels. Under the Bush administration, the Air Force - which makes up 10 percent of U.S. jet fuel demand - had been pushing to drive the development of a domestic CTL market. The decision to abandon these plans represents a policy shift under the Obama administration and raises doubts about the viability of developing a CTL industry in the U.S.[3]

However, in a January 2010 interview, Air Force spokesman Staff Sergeant James Stewart said the U.S. Air Force is investigating a large-scale coal-to-liquids plant at Eielson Air Force Base. With the $10 million appropriation from fiscal year 2009, Jacobs Engineering, Battelle and the University of Alaska Fairbanks have been contracted to research on the viability of the project. According to Stewart, the Air Force’s research will be complete in time to provide recommendations to Congress in 2012.[4]

Groups working on Air Force synfuel proposals

Synthetic Fuels Lobbying Groups



  1. 1.0 1.1 R. A. Dillon, "Appropriations bill includes $10 million for liquid coal project", Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, September 11, 2008.
  2. "Batelle" Batelle: The Business of Innovation, May 5, 2011.
  3. "Air Force abandons efforts to spur CTL development", E&ENews PM, October 21, 2009. (Subscription required.)
  4. "US Air Force considers coal-to-liquids", Stefan Milkowski, Petroleum News, January 30, 2010.

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