Thursday, March 12, 2009

Congressional reports support efforts to revive clean-coal project in Illinois

A report released yesterday by the congressional Government Accountability Office says that Bush administration estimates for a "clean coal" project it scrubbed were significantly higher than the actual cost of the project, because the estimates did not consider inflation. The high costs were cited as the reason for ending the project in Illinois. In a second report, the GAO also said that the Bush administration decision to end the project "may have set back 'clean coal' technology in the United States by as much as a decade," writes Kimberly Kindy in The Washington Post.

The Bush administration said the estimated costs of the FutureGen project had nearly doubled from $1 billion to $1.8 billion, but the GAO report said that, taking inflation into account, the figure would actually be $1.3 billion. But others say the final cost of the plant will be much higher. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that it could cost as much as $2.3 billion, but that he'd still like to see the plant built and hopes to lower that cost. (Encarta map)

The reports "represent the latest efforts by the Illinois congressional delegation to revive the plant," writes Kindy. "President Obama took part in the delegation's efforts when he was in the state." The project has been planned for Mattoon, population 17,000. Some supporters of the project say the Bush administration's decision to scrap the project stemmed from the selection of Mattoon over two possible locations in Texas. The project would involve a partnership of the government, the coal industry and electric utilities. (Read more)

Earlier, Kindy reported that the $1 billion in the economic stimulus package designated for "fossil energy research and development" is likely to go to FutureGen. (Read more)

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