Governor Quinn Signs Bill Approving First Coal-To-Gas Plant In Illinois

07/13/2011 05:13 pm ET | Updated Sep 12, 2011

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn Wednesday signed legislation OKing a proposed plant that would convert coal to natural gas, the state's first of its kind, on an abandoned steel site on Chicago's southeast side.

The $3 billion plant will "substantially reduce carbon emissions, while creating 1,500 jobs and saving consumers more than $100 million over the next several years" lauded Quinn in a press release announcing his signage of the controversial bill, earlier versions of which he opposed, according to the Chicago Tribune.

"Projects that create jobs and protect consumers strengthen our continued economic recovery," Quinn said in a statement. "This project protects Illinois consumers, while continuing our position as a leader in clean energy technology by utilizing home grown resources to create the jobs of today and tomorrow."

The plant was proposed by Leucadia National Corp., a New York-based company.

While the plant is part of the "Chicago Clean Energy" project, environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, have spoken out against it. On the organization's Illinois website, the group says: "By the way, there is no such thing as Clean Coal - just ask someone living next to a mine or power plant." The group describes the sort of synthetic natural gas created by gasification plants like the one proposed to be built in Chicago as "dirty and expensive."

"It is unwise to force Illinois families to bear the burden of funding dirty energy produced by out-of-state companies when clean alternatives are available, like wind and solar, that have already created over 10,000 jobs throughout Illinois," the group said.

The plant is not yet a done deal, as the Southtown Star reported. Leucadia's local subsidiary, Chicago Clean Energy, still has yet to file an application with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to build the plant.