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1. ALTERNATIVE FUELS

Coal-to-liquids' prospects dim, but boosters won't say die

WHARNCLIFFE, W.Va. -- It's been two years since Sen. Joe Manchin (D) and other West Virginia politicians gathered near here to break ground for and sing the praises of what they said would be the first U.S. plant to turn coal into gasoline -- and create hundreds of jobs on a former strip mine near the Kentucky line. Engineering and site preparation followed the pep rally, but there's not much to show for the effort in Mingo County, one of several CTL projects struggling in the face of expanded stores of cheap domestic petroleum and heightened environmental scrutiny.

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