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Superior - As gas prices keep rising, a plant shelling out cheaper fuel could be coming to the Twin Ports.Bringing natural gas into the Twin Ports has been in the works a couple of years, but now the discussion has gone a little further.
Since the rail, trucking, maritime and mining industries are all in close proximity, natural gas suppliers and potential consumers are seriously considering making the Twin Ports a hub for liquefied natural gas.
"We happen to think the Twin Ports is very business friendly on both sides of the bridge,” Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute Co-Director Richard Stewart said. “So that’s a tremendous help to sitting a plant here."
The plant would supply fuel all the way to the Twin Cities, the Iron Range and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
"This could have a significant impact on transportation regionally,” said Adolph Ojard with the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. “Natural gas as a transportation fuel is going to be a potential game changer for the United States."
Officials say they are considering making the switch because liquefied natural gas is more available and a lot cheaper than the diesel fuel now used by most of the industries here.
"For an equivalent gallon of l.n.g., liquefied natural gas it's half the cost of a gallon of diesel fuel," said Stewart.
The l.n.g. is also more efficient to transport and environmentally friendly "It almost eliminates particular matter that you get from diesel and heavy residual fuel," said Stewart.
If approved the fuel would also be available to local everyday consumers.
Officials say if the plant were to come to the Twin Ports the conversion process could take anywhere from three to five years.
A location for the plant has yet to be determined.