The Charleston Gazette investigates the many coal synfuel plants that opened up in Southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky in the fall of 1999. Synthetic fuel, or synfuel, has become more popular with energy providers since 1979. That year, Congress passed a bill that would give a tax credit to those who produce synfuels. The hope was that the bill would help make the U.S. more energy independent in the wake of the Arab oil embargo. While the bill has made the nation less dependent on foreign oil, it has also caused problems for traditional, domestic coal miners. Because they receive a tax credit, synfuel producers charge less for their product than traditional coal miners. Thus, energy suppliers are turning more and more to the cheaper synfuel. Synfuel producers are threatening to put traditional miners out of business.