WASHINGTON D.C. — The newly revived FutureGen coal plant has come under fire from both environmental groups and from a Republican senator opposing wasteful spending.
The environmental groups include the Clean Air Task Force, which had originally been in favor of the project.
"Recognizing that we will never slow the threat of global climate change unless we reduce emissions from coal plants, we at the Clean Air Task Force have been vocal supporters of the FutureGen project to create a near-zero emissions coal gasification project,” explained John Thompson, who directs the CATF’s Coal Transition Project.
“The reinstatement of FutureGen should be an important milestone and a day for celebration. Unfortunately, it is not. In scaling back the amount of carbon the plant will capture from 90 percent to 60 percent in order to cut costs, the Obama Administration has turned FutureGen to YesterGen.”
The scaling back means that FutureGen “will achieve levels that are no higher, and maybe even lower, than several commercial projects already at advanced stages of development,” Thompson said. “The Obama Administration needs to get this one right—return the project to 90 percent capture and get the plant under construction quickly."
FutureGen officials note that the lower capturing rate is only in effect to get the process started, and that the eventual 90 percent removal of carbon dioxide is still a goal for the project.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla), included the FutureGen project among the top ten in his list of 100 stimulus projects, calling it the largest “pork” in history with $1 billion in stimulus funds, and implying that the project is an earmark because Illinois is the President’s home state.
The White House countered that stimulus funds will only be used for the project “if and only if the FutureGen Alliance and the project successfully meet a series of milestone reviews. This process ensures that the FutureGen project will receive full funding only if it proves to be a smart investment.”
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