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Associated Press, Published November 08 2013

As coal projects languish, some question worth

BISMARCK — Two companies that have spent several years and $8 million in state money studying a pair of projects to develop North Dakota's coal industry must soon decide whether to seek another extension or walk away from the projects.

The state would recoup part of its money if the projects are abandoned, and one state official expects extension requests for both. But the lack of progress has some questioning why the state would continue to support them.

A factory to make synthetic natural gas from lignite near South Heart and a coal-to-liquid-fuel plant in western North Dakota are facing a year-end deadline to seek extensions.

A trade group spokesman says the projects could yet bring big economic benefits.