If we've sent this along previously, our apologies.
However, allow us some pertinent excerpts:
"The Bureau (of Mines/Mining - JtM) had been studying the gasification of coal and purification of the coal gas at Morgantown in space made available in West Virginia University buildings. A pilot scale gasifier capable of processing 500 pounds per hour of coal had been constructed in 1948. Now, the Bureau began drawing the blueprints for a new research facility to be designated the Appalachian Experiment Station. The first buildings were erected between 1952 and 1954."
"By the early 1950s, with the benefit of lessons learned in the first experimental units, the Bureau revised its cost projections for coal-based liquid fuels to a more cautious 11 cents a gallon (conventional gasoline cost about 10.6 cents at that time). The National Petroleum Council – an industry advisory committee to the Interior Department – disagreed (of course they did! - JtM), citing 41.4 cents per gallon as the likely cost."
"The same year (1952 - JtM), the nation's first privately built and operated coal hydrogenation plant began operating at Institute, West Virginia. Constructed by the Carbide and Carbon Chemical Company (later to become Union Carbide), the Institute plant could process 300 tons of coal daily. From 1952 to 1956, the plant produced chemicals from coal...".
"In March 1953 when the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee opened its budget hearings, its first official act was to kill funds for the Louisiana, MO, synthetic fuel plants." (Emphasis added, natch. JtM)
And, to salute a home boy:
"The knowledge they gained during this period would prove extremely valuable when West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd decided in 1961 to rejuvenate the nation's coal research program by pushing through legislation..."
Check it out, Mike. Tell the story. Mountaineers have a right to know.