Energy Transportation Systems

May 10, 2019

Coal Slurry

Energy Transportation's Systems, Inc. (ETSI) was formed in 1973, to carry millions of tons of crushed coal from Wyoming's Powder River Basin to coal powered electric plants in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. The 1973 Arab oil embargo caused a boom in the coal industry, and slurry pipelines were proposed as an alternative to railroad transportation.

Coal was crushed and mixed with water to create a slurry and was then sent via pipeline to its destination, where it would be dried and burned. The first coal slurry pipeline in Wyoming was proposed by ETSI, who planned to drill wells in Niobrara County to access underground water resources instead of using surface water for the coal slurry.

Governor Stan Hathaway signed a pipeline bill in the 1970s that would allow water rights for underground water resources, giving ETSI a tentative go-ahead for their proposed pipeline plan. ETSI faced heavy opposition from the railroads, as usng the coal slurry would cost substantially less than what the railroads charged for coal transportation. Even with opposition from the railroads, ETSI's proposed project was showing progress, striking interest in other companies who proposed their own slurry pipelines throughout the West. However, coal slurry pipelines would not last long with industrial expansion and growing demand.

This article is provided through out partnership with the Wyoming State Historical Society.

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