03/12/2009 10:33 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Congress Digs Up Dirt on Plot to Kill FutureGen Cleaner Coal Project

The Bush administration killed plans to build the plant in December 2007, just hours after Mattoon was chosen over two sites in Texas, triggering allegations that the move was political. [1] Last week, we wrote about a new show of support from Energy Secretary Steven Chu for the scuttled public-private initiative to build a cleaner coal plant with experimental technology for capturing and storing carbon emissions. [2] Today, we have two Congressional reports on just how and why the Bush administration came to drop funding for the R&D project. [2] DOE made its decision, largely, on the conclusion that costs for the original FutureGen had doubled and would escalate substantially. [2] Problem is, aside from forgoing federal best practices for decision-making on program budgets, the DOE had the wrong numbers. [2] It compared two cost estimates that didn't match up: one was based on "constant dollars" and the other on inflated dollars. [2] The DOE's Office of Fossil Energy had apparently come up with several cost-cutting options - each having the potential to save $30-55 million apiece - that political appointees chose not to consider. [2] Perhaps more significantly, the agency's failure to fully analyze the program before restructuring it put FutureGen 2.0 on predictably shaky ground. [2]
  1. Bush May Have Set Back 'Clean Coal' Efforts by 10 Years (Sightline)
  2. Congress Digs Up Dirt on Plot to Kill FutureGen Cleaner Coal Project (earth2tech)