by Kristina Rasmussen
Today I stood up with a left-right coalition to call for the end of the FutureGen earmark. Details are below.
Illinois Farmers, Government Watchdogs, and Environmentalists Hold Press Conference on FutureGen and Its Implications on the Federal Budget and Environment
Springfield, Illinois—Today, representatives of Taxpayers for Common Sense, The Heartland Institute, Friends of the Earth, and the Illinois Policy Institute held a press conference along with local Illinois farmers to discuss the implications of the Department of Energy’s FutureGen project in Meredosia, Illinois. The speakers discussed the project’s exorbitant cost and insubstantial benefit to American taxpayers.
The latest iteration of the Department of Energy’s FutureGen project is a federal initiative to finance and retrofit a former power plant into a “clean coal” facility in Meredosia, Illinois. Although project costs continue to soar and clean coal technology remains elusive, taxpayer subsidies continue to flow to FutureGen. On August 5, 2010, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced the awarding of $1 billion in federal stimulus money as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
- Andrew Davenport, Morgan County Farmer said, “As a farmer, if there is even a chance that this 30-year experiment could go wrong and damage my family farm that has passed, and will continue to pass down through my family for generations, I would be remiss in not doing everything I can to stop this project.”
- Kristina Rasmussen, Executive Vice President of the Illinois Policy Institute stated, "From lobbying expenses to tax incentives to liability assumption to the largest earmark in history, Illinois taxpayers have already been asked to put too much on the line for the FutureGen project. With looming economic and budget crises, it doesn't make sense to continue to direct taxpayer funds to an uncertain energy source plagued with ballooning costs. America's economy and energy resources should be freed of undue government interference and favoritism in order to best set the stage for lasting growth."
- Eli Lehrer of The Heartland Institute expressed, "Coal and coal power both play vital roles in Illinois' economy. Like people in every other private business, however, those who mine and burn coal should do so without subsidies. There's no evidence of any legitimate market demand for the FutureGen project—its simply an example of Washington spending more of taxpayers' money on a hairbrained scheme that offers no real public benefit."
- Ben Schreiber, Climate and Energy Tax Analyst of Friends as the Earth said, “Carbon capture and sequestration is simply the latest gift to the coal industry. It is unproven and, even if it works, it is likely to worsen the public health and environmental impacts from coal.”
- Ryan Alexander, President of Taxpayers for Common Sense said, “FutureGen has been riddled with problems since day one. Ameren's departure is just latest. Taxpayers shouldn't have to pony up more than $1 billion to keep this gold plated money pit going. Enough is enough, it's past time to cut our losses and walk away from FutureGen.”
The cost of FutureGen is now expected to top $1.65 billion by project completion, and total costs behind the entire project remain unknown. The $1.65 billion includes over $1 billion for the retrofit of the Meredosia plant (pending purchase from Ameren) and $550 million for the construction of the pipeline and storage site.
Over the last three decades, clean coal initiatives have largely proven to be unsuccessful and carbon capture and sequestration technologies remain uncertain and costly. FutureGen is no exception, with unknown total project costs and unproven technical reliability.
Despite revising and restructuring, the federal government is still being asked to shoulder the majority of FutureGen’s costs. If FutureGen is to move forward, the well-established financial partners involved with FutureGen should bear the project costs, not American taxpayers.