SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (IRN) - Gov. Pat Quinn yielded his veto pen Monday, putting the kibosh on two proposed coal gasification plants – one in Chicago along the Calumet River, and one in southern Illinois’ Jefferson County.
The decision disappointed Illinois Coal Association President Phil Gonet, who says the two plants would have eventually created roughly 500 full time jobs.
Gonet says Illinois sits on about 200 billion tons of coal, which he says could power the entire country for more than 100 years. He says there’s no way around it: coal must play a role in the state’s future energy needs.
“About 47 percent of the state’s power comes from coal. You can put up all the windmills that you want, and it’s not going to replace coal,” he says.
Gonet is concerned by the age of many of Illinois’ coal power plants, which he says must eventually be replaced. Given strict emissions standards, he says coal gasification is the only way enough affordable, clean energy will be available in the future.
David Kolata of the Citizens Utility Board applauds the governor’s decision to veto the legislation. The organization staunchly opposed the bills because it says they didn’t provide enough consumer protection.
“It essentially locked in supply for natural gas consumers from these two plants, with a long term contract that were significantly above where current market prices are,” says Kolata.
In his veto statement, Gov. Quinn said he’s looking forward to working with coal gasification proponents on a new proposal – one that’s part of a comprehensive energy strategy.
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