Monday, February 09, 2009

Big Boondoggle Rescues FutureGen Boondogglet

Chris Edwards has a piece on FutureGen in the Cato@Liberty blog. FutureGen is a project to take CO2 from burning coal and pump it into layers of rock beneath Illinois farmland. I live and work near Mattoon, and would probably personally benefit from the boondogglet. Edwards:

FutureGen was launched in 2003 by President Bush as a public-private partnership to build a low-emission coal-fueled power plant and demonstrate technologies to capture carbon dioxide. The government was to share the cost of the project with 12 private energy companies. The project was originally estimated to cost $1 billion, but by 2008 the estimate had ballooned to $1.8 billion. By mid-2008, $176 million had been spent.
A lot of the money spent for FutureGen in the Mattoon area went to building an interstate exchange. The exchange also serves other light industry in the area. It was needed already.

The FutureGen decision to locate in Mattoon was still ringing in the air when Rod Blagojevich sent a letter to President Bush asking him to come to Mattoon for a photo op demonstrating the President's commitment to fighting greenhouse gases and such. The tone of the letter, and Blago's announcement of it, were a clear attempt to rub the President's nose in the fact that Illinois had been chosen over Texas. It was embarrassing to me that Blago thought Bush so small-minded, but that's what we had for a governor.

Immediately after that letter was announced, the project got the axe (or got sent back to the proverbial committee).

Maybe it was a coincidence, but I've always thought that if Blago had just kept his mouth shut, the project would have gone on as planned.

As a global warming skeptic, I see little need for this project. I've also seen too many B-movies not to be scared silly about pumping steamy-hot CO2 into underground rock formations. It just screams Godzilla plot.

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