Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bush administration, citing rising costs, pulls out of deal to build no-emissions power plant in Illinois

In a "stunning decision" that could lead to a big battle with Congress, the Bush administration has withdrawn Department of Energy support and funding for a power plant that would have virtually no emissions and that utilities want to build near Mattoon, Ill., reports Deirdre Shesgreen of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The federal government was supposed to provide three-fourths of the estimated $1.75 billion cost of the FutureGen plant, with utilities and coal companies providing the rest. But when the industrial partners announced recently that they had chosen Mattoon for the plant, the Energy Department declined to join the announcement.

Members of the Illinois congressional delegation "scurried to try to get the decision overturned even before the official announcement," reports Shesgreen, of the P-D's Washington bureau. "They vowed to secure funding for the plant anyway, and some charged that politics were behind the reversal because Texas was not selected as the site."

An Energy Department spokeswoman said it "remains committed to FutureGen's objectives" for clean-coal technology but favors a "restructured approach" to head off "further cost escalation." Federal officials will "pursue alternatives to FutureGen," at least as it is currently planned, Peabody Energy lobbyist Frederick Palmer told Shesgreen. -free power plant, told federal lawmakers Tuesday it plans to pull its support for the $1.8 billion project in Illinois, lawmakers said. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said, "In 25 years on Capitol Hill, I have never witnessed such a cruel deception." (Read more) For the Energy Department's site on the project, click here.

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