Revisiting with Rob Wallace on Energy & Politics

A project to develop technology to burn coal with little or no carbon emissions has been “put on the shelf” two years after General Electric and the State of Wyoming agreed to share the $100 million cost of the pilot project. Wyoming Chronicle reprises an interview with General Electric Vice-President for Legislative Affairs Rob Wallace from 2009, when Wallace described General Electric’s high hopes for clean coal and assessed other energy alternatives.

Wallace, a Wyoming native, was instrumental in negotiating the state-corporate partnership. The project would use a South African technology to gasify coal and remove carbon – a system that has heretofore not worked for Wyoming coal. The High Plains Gasification Advanced Technology Center would be staffed and run by the University of Wyoming.

General Electric announced last year that it was putting the project on hold because of recent decline in natural gas prices, and uncertainty over federal energy policy. University of Wyoming President Tom Buchanan told Wyoming PBS in December that he disagreed with General Electric’s decision, arguing that energy uncertainty made research on clean coal even more essential for a region with vast untapped coal reserves.

Wallace talked to Wyoming Chronicle Producer Geoff O’Gara about working for General Electric, one of the world’s largest corporate conglomerates, with interests in a variety of energy resources, including coal, wind, and nuclear. Wallace was previously an aide to Senator Malcolm Wallop (R-Wyoming) and himself ran for the U.S. House of Representatives from Wyoming. He held posts in the National Park Service and on the staff of Governor Jim Geringer.

About Geoff O'Gara

Geoff O'Gara is a Senior Producer at Wyoming PBS, and an author, based in Lander, Wyoming. His books include A Long Road Home (Houghton-Mifflin); What You See in Clear Water (Knopf); and a number of travel guides for National Geographic Books, Fodors, and other publishers. He has been a newspaper columnist, an editor of High Country News, a contributing editor for National Geographic Traveler, and a freelance writer for publications ranging from the New York Times to Travel & Leisure. He received a Kellogg Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan and the Neltje Blanchan Award for writing about the natural world. At Wyoming PBS, he produces and hosts public affairs programming like Capitol Outlook, and writes and produces documentaries such as "Washakie" and upcoming programs on "Migrations" and Alan Simpson.