Citizens group opposes Berks County gas-to-liquids plant

     State Rep. Jim Cox (R- Berks) spoke to about 300 people who attended a meeting to oppose the GTL plant (Marie Cusick/StateImpact Pennsylvania)

    State Rep. Jim Cox (R- Berks) spoke to about 300 people who attended a meeting to oppose the GTL plant (Marie Cusick/StateImpact Pennsylvania)

    A citizens group has formed in opposition to a proposed gas-to-liquids plant in South Heidelberg Township, Berks County.

    Last night nearly 300 people attended a meeting held by the newly-formed South Heidelberg Community Association. The group’s online petition against the plant has received over 1,000 signatures.

    “We’re not going to win this overnight,” says one of the group’s organizers, Steve Wolszczenski. “It’s going to take diligence from our community to convince them to go somewhere else.”

    The idea behind the gas-to-liquids (GLT) plant is to transform Pennsylvania’s cheap, abundant natural gas into more expensive motor fuel. The facility would cost between $800 million and $1 billion and produce about 500,000 gallons per day of gasoline and liquid petroleum. It would create about 150 permanent jobs.

    If built, it would be among the first facilities of its kind in the country. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration there are currently five GTL plants operating in the world, and none in the United States.

    It’s planned for a 63-acre site about 10 miles west of Reading. The site is right next to Sunoco Logistics’ Sinking Spring facility. A spokesman for EmberClear, the Canadian-based developer seeking to built the plant, says the plan would be for Sunoco to buy and store the gasoline produced at the plant.

    The site is zoned for light industrial uses, and it’s adjacent to several residential developments. Neighbors say they were unaware such a facility could be constructed near their homes.

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