Coal gasification isnt a new technology, but compared to traditional coal fired electric generation, its a much cleaner technology. It is also versatile, allowing coal to be converted to gas for power generation, or for conversion to syngas, a synthetic natural gas. Kentucky and Indiana lawmakers are working to take advantage of abundant coal resources in the Tristate for new plants. Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher signed a law Thursday giving incentives to biofuel producers and coal to gas plant builders. The hope is to lure Peabody Energy to Union County. The company is eying the Western part of the state and its massive coal reserves for a coal to gas plant. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is also working to help Duke Energy and Cinergy build coal to gas plants in the Hoosier State. Duke is in the permitting process right now for a coal to gas electricity plant in Edwardsport, in Knox County. Cinergy is looking at property in Spencer and Posey counties for a possible coal to natural gas plant. The plants could cost $2-3 billion to build, and would consume huge quantities of coal. That means more jobs in mining and transportation, and, politicians say, all of the related support fields. Both governors are also supporting biofuels including soy diesel and corn based ethanol. Southwest Indiana is already home to one ethanol plant under construction, and several more that have been proposed. Owensboro recently celebrated the ribbon cutting on a 50 million gallon per year soy diesel plant. The new energy technologies promise big economic returns, but some residents worry they also pose environmental risks. While coal to gas technology dramatically reduces sulfur, nitrous oxide and mercury pollution compared to burning coal, it still produces waste. Detractors worry that Indiana and Kentucky politicians are missing an opportunity to take the lead in solar and wind energy technology, and the cost will be felt by all who breathe the Tristate air.