ST. LOUIS -- The U.S. Department of Energy, frustrated by ballooning costs of an ambitious quest to build a virtually emissions-free power plant, told federal lawmakers Tuesday it plans to pull its support for a $1.8 billion project developers want to build in Illinois, lawmakers said.
The Energy Department would not publicly divulge its intentions about FutureGen or discuss what was said during the private meeting with lawmakers, saying only that it planned an announcement within days.
But some federal lawmakers from Illinois who attended the briefing later insisted that any departure from building the coal-fired, 275-megawatt prototype power plant anywhere other than the central Illinois town of Mattoon would be unacceptable - and grounds for a possibly nasty congressional fight.
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, accused Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman of "cruel deception" of Illinoisans by "creating false hope in a FutureGen project which he has no intention of funding or supporting."
Durbin said Illinois' delegation in Congress "is going to make the case for FutureGen directly to the president."
"We will not go down without a fight," he said.