Thursday, May 08, 2008

Energy Department unveils plan to break up clean- coal project; backers of one big plant play for time

In the face of congressional opposition, the U.S. Department of Energy said yesterday it would move ahead with its plan to split $1.3 billion in clean-coal appropriations among four projects and forsake an industry-backed project in the Illinois Basin coalfield while keeping the project's name, FutureGen.

The department said it "would solicit applications from power plant developers to win a piece of the $1.3 billion the agency has set aside to help finance new coal-fired power plants that use carbon capture and storage technology, or integrated gasification combined cycle technology," writes Cassandra Sweet of Dow Jones Newswires.

Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., is vowing to keep alive the original idea for a plant in Mattoon, Ill. (Encarta map), "and has suggested that he would block Bush administration appointments to the DOE to do so," Sweet reports. Durbin is in harness with the FutureGen Alliance of utility and coal companies, which told Sweet that congressional approval will be needed to reallocate funds earmarked for the Mattoon project. The allies hope to keep the original plan in place until a new president takes office -- perhaps Durbin's Illinois colleague, Barack Obama. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman is scheduled to testify today before the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee. (Read more)

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