Gwich'in village is test site for coalbed methane

The Gwich'in village of Fort Yukon, Alaska, is a test site for coalbed methane gas drilling.

The Fort Yukon Tribe is working with three federal agencies, the state and the University of Alaska Fairbanks on a study of the coalbed deposit. Wells were drilled to better understand how much gas is available and how much it will cost to produce.

If the project is successful, it could provide light, heat and power to the village without the environment impacts of coal burning. But coalbed methane drilling has side effects of its own, mainly in the water byproduct.

Use of the gas could help reduce the village's dependency on oil. The local utility paid $1 million in wholesale for diesel last year.

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Fort Yukon looks to gas for future heat, power (Thee Anchorage Daily News 9/13)