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Commissioners Host Call On Fertilizer Plant

Commissioners Host  Call On Fertilizer Plant Commissioners Host  Call On Fertilizer Plant

The Roosevelt County Commissioners hosted an informational meeting with Cyan H2, a Montana based LLC that includes the Eastern Montana Fertilizer Company, regarding a new fertilizer plant proposed east of Culbertson, south of U.S. Highway 2 and west of County Road 1013. The site identified for purchase includes over 400 acres. Letters of support for the project have been signed by Commissioner Gordon Oelkers and Wolf Point Mayor Chris Dschaak.

Governor Greg Gianforte has also endorsed the project. Developers say the project will create hundreds of permanent jobs in the area, as well as opportunities for many more temporary workers and contractors.

Oelkers described the Zoom call with company representatives as the first of a series of informational meetings about the project. Presenter John Mues described the plant as dedicated to “fertilizer production with a hydrogen input.” He said fertilizer production is currently dominated by foreign entities in Russia, China, the Middle East and elsewhere. “We believe that we have a way to make our product cost competitive, but manufacture it in the United States, in Montana,” Mues said. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines both cited national security concerns in the letters of support for the project.

The consortium of entities and companies assisting with the project includes BNSF, Montana State University, The Upper Missouri Power Collective, Cushing Terrill, DNRC, Sheridan Electric Cooperative and more than 20 others.

“There’s a job creation story here,” Mues said, referring to regional plant closures at Sidney Sugars, Savage Mine and elsewhere in the region since 2020. He said the project would benefit the communities around the site and said the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, the Northern Cheyenne and the Turtle Mountain Chippewa would benefit from job creation on their reservations.

Mues said the company would be producing urea fertilizer, which has been widely used around the United States and the world for generations. “The idea here is to reduce the imports of nitrogen fertilizer,” Mues said. “And we’re going to employ some new technologies that will make the emissions significantly less.”

Mues said that EMFC currently has their 442-acre site under legal control and they have secured more than 90 percent of natural gas pipeline easements and water pipeline easements required. He said special project features include various carbon capture technologies, an intensive methane detection system, as well as one of America’s largest fuel cell plants. He said along with the fuel cell plant, the project will include a solar farm and sizable rail loop.

“Some of these things haven’t been done before, Mues said. “We’ll be commingling green and blue hydrogen and we’re actually going to be implementing the largest fuel cell park in North America.” He said the fertilizer plant would employ patent-pending technologies for carbon capture and emissions reduction.

Timeline estimates say U.S. Department of Energy loan approval for the project may come as early as late 2024 or 2025. “We’ve already been told by the director of the DOE loan program that our project fully qualifies,” Mues said. “Then we will have a multi-year construction process period.” If funded and permitted, full operations are projected to be finished by 2028.

Following the presentation, deputy county attorney Thomas Bleicher asked, “How many workers can we expect coming into the county that law enforcement needs to contend with?”

Mues said plans for worker management are being developed but are far from complete. “Once that’s been pinned down, we should have a better idea about the flux of workers,” Mues said.

Wolf Point City Council member Dean Mahlum addressed Mues about coordinating efforts with area law enforcement and emergency services. Mahlum asked, “Will there be any internal fire protection?” He added that area rural fire department could be hit with enhanced demands, as will emergency services. He recommended coordination with law enforcement agencies and county officials. County attorney Theresa Diekhans also stressed the need for communication with area law enforcement.

Mues said training will be extended to area departments and said that a key part of the project is a security and community benefits package which will address issues related to emergency services, security and law enforcement. He said the package is still under development. “The more feedback we get for you folks, that strengthens that package,” Mues said.

Mues concluded by saying that support for the project from Senator Tester is key. “This project really will fly or not fly because him and the DOE loan,” Mues said.

Oelkers said more informational meetings will be scheduled in coming months,

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