Air Force Nixes Fuel Plant for Malmstrom

The Air Force is calling off its quest to establish a coal-to-liquid fuel conversion plant at Malmstrom AFB, Mont. In a release yesterday, the service said it has determined after a thorough examination that the proposals it received for the CTL plant “are not viable.” Accordingly, it said it “will no longer pursue” the development of a plant that would be built and run by a private operator at the Montana base. Kathleen Ferguson, USAF’s installation czar, rendered the decision. The Air Force cited “possible conflicts” with the mission of the base’s 341st Missile Wing, which operates one-third of the nation’s Minuteman III ICBMs. Having a CTL plant at Malmstrom was a part of USAF’s broader strategy to wean the service off foreign sources of energy by utilizing a synthetic blend of aviation fuel that can be derived in part from coal, of which the US has great abundance. The concept is not totally dead since the State of Alaska is looking at Eielson Air Force Base as the potential home for a CTL plant. But Air Force spokesman Gary Strasburg told the Daily Report yesterday that the Eielson option is being driven by Alaska and “has not been brought to the Air Force for consideration.”