NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- As potentially costly carbon-emission rules become increasingly likely, leaders in the coal industry are spearheading efforts to get a jump on the game by investing in clean-carbon projects. The need for these investments is critical, if current utility trends are any indication of this. Utility companies are becoming more and more interested in -- or are already fueling their power plants with -- natural gas instead of coal, given that cleaner emissions would likely mean fewer future business costs. And wind and solar energy projects are also seen as potential threats to coal industry components. Arch Coal ( ACI), for one, is dealing with these challenges by making small, but strategic investments in technology companies focused on making coal use cleaner. Arch says its technology portfolio now includes an equity interest in DKRW Advanced Fuels, which is planning to convert coal into clean-burning transportation fuel on Arch reserves in southern Wyoming; ADA-ES, an emissions control company; and more recently, the Trailblazer Energy Center.
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Arch Coal on Thursday said that it bought a 35% equity interest in the Trailblazer Energy Center, expected to rank among the world's cleanest fossil-fuel-based power plants, and being developed by power development company Tenaska near Sweetwater, Texas. Arch's investment will be made over time as the development of the project reaches key milestones. Trailblazer is expected to emit 70% less carbon dioxide than the cleanest natural gas-based power plants and will ship captured carbon dioxide to the nearby Permian Basin, where it will be used to boost oil production. Peabody Energy ( BTU) could also be in the process of making a similar type of investment to Arch Coal. In fact, Peabody is expected to announce its decision to invest in energy start-up company Calera this week, according to the New York Times.