DOE officially pulls financial support from FutureGen project

In a June 13 letter from Energy Secretary, Samuel Bodman, the Department of Energy has indicated its plans to cease all funding to the FutureGen project and withdraw from the FutureGen Alliance — a public-private group founded on the goal of building a near-zero emissions coal-fueled generation plant. The DOEs decision cemented its intentions towards the project and closed out some short-term options for the FutureGen Alliance group.

As many media reports indicated, however, the letter was not a surprise for Alliance members as the DOE had indicated in January that it intended to withdraw funding from the project and redirect its intentions and funding toward "smaller commercial plants" that were testing other means of sequestering CO2. The cooperative agreement between the Alliance and the DOE was set to expire last Sunday (June 15th).

Undeterred by the removal of DOE support, FutureGen CEO, Michael Mudd reiterrated the same plans for the Alliance as he had discussed in the Spring 2008 edition of American Coal magazine (see p. 13).

Despite DOE’s actions, the Alliance remains committed to the original project and has engaged several Members of Congress to craft a legislative solution to keep FutureGen at Mattoon on track. …

Given the urgency of developing and deploying technology to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, we are optimistic that Congress will continue to support FutureGen. There is no project in the world that can produce a nearzero emission power-plant faster than FutureGen at Mattoon. FutureGen is a non-profit entity, includes unprecedented international involvement and information sharing, and has a site that is technically and legally ready to go. Alternatives will cost the country five years or more of delay and will deliver less in terms of results.

Media reports repeated the Alliance’s commitment to the project and also provided evidence of bipartisan Congressional support from Senator Dick Durbin (D-Il) and House Representative Tim Johnson (R-Il). In fact, those media reports went so far as to indicating that Alliance members hope the withdrawal of support by the Bush administration might only be a temporary setback.

A June 16 FutureGen news release, indicated the same intentions. In the release, Mudd stated that continued Congressional support and the upcoming election could mean that funding for FutureGen might be back on track early in 2009.

“As we learned from recent hearings on Capitol Hill, FutureGen has broad bipartisan support in Congress. Key lawmakers have said they want to keep FutureGen at Mattoon alive so that the next President can determine how to move forward, and we will continue to work with our champions in the House and Senate.”

18. June 2008 by
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