Costello is upbeat about coal plant

Costello is upbeat about coal plant

U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello said Thursday he’s disappointed the two Illinois sites that are finalists for a job-creating coal plant aren’t closer to Belleville, but added that if a Southern Illinois town gets FutureGen, the whole region will benefit.

Mattoon and Tuscola, two towns between U.S. 45 and Interstate 57, were announced Tuesday as two of four finalists for a $1 billion, coal-fueled power plant planned to open by 2012.

Its developers say that FutureGen will produce almost no air pollution, creating a boon to Southern Illinois’ coal economy, which went into a tailspin after new federal pollution regulations were adopted in the early 1990s.

Costello, D-Belleville, has lobbied for a clean-coal plant in his congressional district for years, but proposed sites in the area didn’t meet some federal requirements for the project. Costello said its impact will still be felt in the region.

“You’re going to have in the neighborhood of 2,000 construction jobs, and you’ll have orders coming from local suppliers,” he said.

“Once the plant is up and running … the plant will require about 1 million tons of coal. Given the fact that we have about one-fourth of the coal in the United States today in Illinois, it will be good for the state,” he said.

The other two finalist sites are in Texas.

A final decision on the project’s location is expected in the next 12 months by the FutureGen Industrial Alliance — a consortium of private companies that includes: American Electric Power; BHP Billiton; the China Huaneng Group; CONSOL Energy Inc.; Foundation Coal; Kennecott Energy, a member of the Rio Tinto Group; Peabody Energy; and Southern Company.

The Alliance has been overseeing the process with input from the U.S. Department of Energy.

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