CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Energy on Thursday gave the long-planned FutureGen clean-coal project one of the final OKs it needs to start building.
The Energy Department issued its 25-page approval of the $1.65 billion plan that would refit a coal-fired power plant in Meredosia in western Illinois. The project would remove carbon dioxide from the coal and store it underground. The greenhouse gas is linked to climate change.
In the document, known as a record of decision, the Energy Department said the project planners had addressed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concerns raised about potential air pollution and other matters. The department is providing $1 billion to the project, with the rest of the money coming from the FutureGen Alliance, a group of coal companies that formed to work on the project.
"DOE based its decision on the importance of achieving the objectives of the FutureGen Initiative and a careful review of the potential environmental impacts," the document states. "Clean coal is an essential component of (President Barack Obama's) 'All of the Above' energy strategy."
Ken Humphreys, CEO of the FutureGen Alliance, said the project still needs to obtain a permit to store the gas and to finalize its end of the financing. Both are conditions that have to be met to secure the $1 billion in federal funding. But Humphreys said he expects construction to begin this year.