New troubles for revamped ‘clean coal’ project

The new plan calls for retrofitting an idled coal plant in another town – Meredosia – and moving the trapped CO2 via a new pipeline system to an underground storage site in Mattoon. The pipeline network and Mattoon storage site would “lay the foundation” for a regional CO2 network, DOE said.

But the economic development organization for Coles County, which houses Mattoon, rejected the idea Wednesday.

“It is with great disappointment that I must inform you that the citizens, neighbors near the site, business leaders, and community leaders in Coles County are nearly unanimous in the belief that the pursuit of FutureGen 2.0, as proposed, is not in our best interest,” said Angela Griffin, president of Coles Together, in a letter to Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinJulián Castro jabs ICE: 'Delete your account' Watchdog: Steele dossier 'had no impact' on opening of 2016 probe Horowitz: 'Very concerned' about FBI leaks to Giuliani MORE (D-Ill.).

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The letter states that the revised $1.2 billion project “does not provide for the highest and best use of a Mattoon site that top scientists, researchers and engineers have determined to be the best location in the nation for a clean coal facility and on-site carbon capture and sequestration research.”

If the project moves forward, it “must be without Coles County” the letter adds.

Durbin, in a statement Wednesday, said he was “disappointed” in the decision by leaders in Mattoon and Coles County, but vowed to work with DOE to continue the project elsewhere.

“This week, I will ask the Department of Energy to solicit other Illinois communities to take on the role envisioned for Mattoon. Both my office and the Department of Energy have heard from a number of communities throughout the state expressing their interest,” Durbin said.

“I wish cost overruns, project delays and rapid advances in science in other parts of the country had not necessitated a change in the FutureGen project. But we must face reality,” he added.