Coal Slurry Pipelines:

Progress and Problems for New Ones

CED-79-49: Published: Apr 20, 1979. Publicly Released: Apr 20, 1979.

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For several years Congress has debated the merits of giving coal slurry pipeline developers federal eminent domain power to acquire the right-of-way needed to construct their pipelines. Several proposed pipeline systems, coupled with federal and state legislation proposals to allow eminent domain power for land acquisition, have generated considerable public controversy.

According to industry sources, at least four additional western pipelines may be built by the mid-1980's without federal legislation, but further pipeline development in the eastern states hinges on passage of state or federal eminent domain legislation. Both federal and private sources have studied the issues surrounding coal slurry pipeline development. Plans for seven proposed pipelines continue without eminent domain. Industry officials from four of these pipelines believe their lines can be built without federal eminent domain. While there is enough water available, it may be difficult to obtain in western states because of prior reservations and legislative restrictions. Pollution will probably not be a major problem since most coal slurry water will be reused in power generating stations. However, additional study may be necessary before it can be used for other purposes or discharged into rivers and streams. While site specific problems may arise, most sources envision no transportation capacity problems. The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new emission standards for coal fired power plants which could result in new or changing coal slurry route proposals. The Interstate Commerce Commission has lifted some if its earlier restrictions. This should help the railroads maintain their competitive position.

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