Prominent environmental groups in Montana and Wyoming are finding themselves at odds over efforts to attract cleaner burning coal plants to the two states. At least one prominent Montana group, the Montana Environmental Information Center, has said it opposes the efforts, while a prominent Wyoming environmental group recently came out in favor of it. The divide among environmentalists is not always black and white. Other Montana environmental groups have said they can support Montana’s cleaner coal efforts, and one national group recently met with Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Montana’s leading supporter of the technologies, to endorse his efforts. Cleaner coal technologies are under consideration in both states, but the one considered closest to reality in both is called coal gasification. The process takes regular coal, exposes it to steam and either oxygen or air to break the coal into its gaseous building blocks, like carbon monoxide and hydrogen. Schweitzer envisions capturing the carbon, the main player in global warming, and reinjecting it into the ground. The remaining gases are then burned in a power plant, creating far less pollution than even the most modern traditional coal-burning plants. Jeff Barber, a spokesman for the Montana Environmental Information Center, said his group is skeptical because the technology that renders the coal “cleaner” is not proven. “We just don’t know yet if this is a long-term solution,” he said. “I don’t know why we’re not putting as much energy behind wind development as we are to coal development.” Schweitzer called the MEIC “marginalized,” and said he doubted opposition from the group would slow efforts. “If there was still a phone booth in Helena, they could have their meetings there,” he said. Wyoming’s main efforts to attract cleaner coal plants are driven by the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority, a state board that has spent $200,000 on Washington, D.C., lobbyists to attract federal matching dollars to help the state in its clean-coal efforts. At a recent meeting in Sheridan, Wyo., Jill Morrison, an organizer for the Powder River Basin Resource Council, a northeast Wyoming environmental group, said her group supported the effort and would “help wherever possible.” Steve Waddington, executive director of the Wyoming authority, said he was pleased, but not surprised, the environmental group endorsed his state’s efforts.