National legislator encourages FutureGen funding

By Kathleen Foody

Legislators supportive of the FutueGen project have called on the Department of Energy to release a decision on the project – and $1 billion in fossil energy research funding from the national stimulus package.

Rep. Tim Johnson (R) was among the legislators who signed the letter, and maintained his support for the project and allocating stimulus funds to Mattoon, Ill.

“This letter is a way of reminding (DOE Secretary Stephen Chu) of the importance of FutureGen to the cause of clean energy, energy independence and job creation,” Johnson said in a news release.

Mattoon was chosen as the site of the clean coal-burning plant, but the project was put on hold during former President Bush’s administration. Illinois legislators, including Johnson and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, have remained hopeful the project could be revived during the Obama administration.

A portion of the text of the letter follows here:

“With the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 now enacted into law, we recommend that DOE direct funds towards FutureGen because of the positive effects it will have on the economy. While not specifically mentioned in the stimulus package, it is our understanding that DOE could fund FutureGen at $1 billion under DOE’s ‘fossil energy research and development programs.’ We believe FutureGen would make exceptional use of these funds.

In addition, we also ask that you quickly release the Record of Decision for FutureGen. A tremendous and significant amount of work and resources have gone into making this project a reality. With an Environmental Impact Study already complete and a site already selected, FutureGen is five years ahead of any comparable project. We cannot further delay on this promising technology and releasing the Record of Decision is a necessary step in propelling the project towards construction.

As DOE and the administration make decisions on where the stimulus funding should be distributed, we urge you to include FutureGen funding in Mattoon, Illinois. By directing $1 billion in fossil energy research towards FutureGen under the stimulus and releasing the Record of Decision DOE can help create jobs and bring this important technology to fruition.”