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Governor to prez candidates: Let’s hear your position on FutureGen

Thursday, Jan 31, 2008

* Kevin’s done a good job of handling the blog posts and the comment moderation today while I was a guest of the Paul Simon Public Pollicy Institute at Southern Illinois University.

Here’s something else you might want to discuss. It seems like a good idea, but I doubt Gov. Blagojevich has the credibility to make it stick…

In advance of Tuesday’s primary, Gov. Rod Blagojevich is asking all presidential candidates to take a stand on a $1.5-billion federally funded clean-coal project in Illinois that the Bush administration killed this week.

“We’re not giving up the fight to make FutureGen a reality in Illinois,” the governor wrote Thursday in letters to the six remaining Democratic and Republican candidates. “I am asking you to make it clear where you stand on FutureGen before Illinois voters cast their ballots on Feb. 5.”

Energy Secretary Sam Bodman on Wednesday announced the termination of a five-year effort to build a nearly pollution-free power plant in Illinois, which would have created more than 600 construction and about 100 permanent jobs and potentially provided a way to use the state’s abundant high-sulfur coal reserves.

The Energy Department now plans to disburse research funding to several new and existing coal-fired power plants across the country.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Hearing voices - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 2:48 pm:

    Forget about FutureGen, Ask the Gov. when he is going to pass a capital bill so we won’t lose matching funds.

  2. - The 'Broken Heart' of Rogers Park - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 2:57 pm:

    Please, why wreck a good debate by raising a issue question when they can fight about Rezko instead?

  3. - Old Elephant - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 3:02 pm:

    If I were Steve Sauerberg I’d be arguing that Illinios has a senior senator who is so excessively partisan that he’s burned every possible bridge in Washington.

    I’d argue that this is an example of why it’s important not to have a political party’s attack dog as your U.S. Senator.

    I’d contrast the Dick Durbin of today, with the Dick Durbin of the past and point out that a less rigidly partisan Senator would put his state’s interests first.

  4. - FutureScam - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 3:05 pm:

    This is another hint that Southern Illinois needs to look for an economic future beyond the coal industry. This project was never the cure-all that politicians and the coal industry claimed it was.

  5. - Reading on Walden - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 3:07 pm:

    And Governor, before the next election I want to know why you consistently oppose improving education for all students in Illinois. Remember HB 750. Before I cast my ballot in 2010 for Governor of Illinois, I will want to know which candidates support HB 750.

  6. - zatoichi - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 3:10 pm:

    Who was the main driver to get the bid in the first place? If the Gov was there every step from the begining and not be a come lately to “improve” a package after it was close, maybe he can help pull this off. Still think if this had been Texas the $$$ would be alright with some minor adjustments. However, also agree with Hearing Voices - capital matching bucks bring much more cash and many more jobs.

  7. - GoBearsss - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 3:11 pm:

    It isn’t just Illinois’ vote they would be fighting for here on the futuregen question.

    Look at all those coal states that have rushed to yell at the Bush Administration about this.

  8. - GoBearsss - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 3:11 pm:

    “The Energy Department now plans to disburse research funding to several new and existing coal-fired power plants across the country.”

    This means Texas, by the way.

  9. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 3:16 pm:

    The FutureGen repurposing may simply be an indication of the lack of clout or interest by the Illinois delegation. Do not also forget the loss of funding at Fermi Labs.

    Specifically, I do not personally know the technical merits of placing 1.5B in one project vs. placing smaller amounts of money in several places. One has to remember that the Energy Secretary was discouraging the selection of a site due to the rethinking of the program. It was reported here and in other media.

    It was a cruel hoax to raise the hopes of the MAtoon residents when those in the know knew it was never to be more than a photos op for the Gov.
    Certainly, with the high sulpher coal we have in Illinois there should be an emphasis on research in our State sponsored Universities to deal with the sulpher and various methods of carbon sequestration.

  10. - DeepFriedOnAStick - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 3:17 pm:

    I wonder if this is just Blago’s feeble attempt to take a shot at Obama. Seriously, besides Obama, why would any of the other presidential candidates feel any pressure whatsoever to endorse Illinois as the proper home for FutureGen?

    Coming on the heels of Blago’s remark the other day about being in the same boat with Obama and all the others who took money from Rezko, it seems like Blago has decided he wants to pick a fight with Obama.

  11. - anon - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 3:21 pm:

    Is the Gov asking for an MOU from each candidate? The irony of it all.

  12. - Gus Frerotte's Clipboard - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 3:21 pm:

    I doubt it’s a fight with Obama. Even assuming anybody responds (not a safe assumption), this won’t affect the outcome of the Democratic primary. It could matter in the Republican primary, though, if any candidate muffs the answer to this question. I doubt any of the Republicans will respond to the Governor, but it might not be a bad idea for an enterprising reporter to get the official position of each campaign about FutureGen some time between now and Tuesday. I’d be surprised if somebody wasn’t already on that.

  13. - Niles Township - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 3:22 pm:

    Not a fan of the Guv, but I think FutureGen is good for the state and the country. You can register your dissatisfaction with Secretary Bodman:

  14. - IncrediblyDumberThanYouThink - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 3:44 pm:

    How embarrasing are the only words that come to mind when I read the Blaggodiot press release. This is the very bottom a very deep barrel.

    The better move is to use to turn to the Illinois Power Authority to put the project back on track. But that might require him to acknowledge the Madigans were several steps ahead — again —as usual.

  15. - one of the 35 - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 3:51 pm:

    If only Hastert were still Speaker, we might have a fighting chance to save this project. As it is, we have no federal political clout left. Future Gen, and much more importantly, Fermi Lab, are doomed.

  16. - Marty - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 3:54 pm:

    600 temporary jobs and 100 permanent? BFD. I’m underwhelmed.

    I agree with other posters, we need a capital plan to at least match available Federal dollars. If part of teh price of that is a research program on low-emission coal technology, State-funded, centered in Mattoon, I can live with that.

  17. - rottimom - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 3:56 pm:

    Well, I think it is a great idea to bring the idea to the candidates! McCain is the same old Washington guy, he stabbed his follow citizens in Arizona, along with Native Americans. He plans on opening the borders…so no, he isn’t interested in future generations of our citizens.

    Romney has spoken about coal industry, using technology and research to increase jobs and production of America’s resources. Romney wants to invest in America. Why do you think all the liberal Republicans are backing McCain..because he is intelligent and articulate, a great leader? No way! He will keep things the same.
    We need a president who works for us…Romney did a great job in Mass., he cleaned house of all the good old boys…..
    Vote Romney if we want to take our country back!

  18. - GoBearsss - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 3:57 pm:

    I see, Dumber, so the Illinois Power Authority should foot the $1.7 billion dollars for it?


    You gonna raise taxes for that?

  19. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 4:06 pm:

    Lets overlook Blagojevich as the reason this will not be done -

    Illinois is not California. This means that we do not have a competative race here. As a result, there is no tension for the competing candidates to woo voters over any issue.

    California, like Florida this week, is the BIG SCHMOO. It is a make-or-break state for Obama. So, if the California governor wanted to play with the situation between Barak and Hillary over something, he has their attention.

    There is nothing at political stake here, so there is no reason to even run political advertisements. Illinois, the solid blue state, is irrelevant politically as long as it stays a solid blue state.

    This is a problem with a one-party state. If there is no open market for political power, then there is no new ideas presented for political gain. There is no political debate over ideas, just intraparty turf battles.

  20. - dc - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 4:12 pm:

    Typical Rod - blame the federal government for what was essentially a blundering PR move on his part - then ask others to take responsibility for fixing it and he takes credit for leading the issue. Hillary will support anything at any time in any state to get a vote. Obama, if he were smart, would say the job of the U.S. Senate is not to micromanage the DoE, but that their decision is business as usual and that he would like to end business as usual in Washington, D.C. and in Illinois. He should talk about the need to have straight talk, less partisan games for the sake of news releases with no substance and the need for stronger government ethics at all levels. It would be interesting to see Blago’s response to such a statement.

  21. - Garp - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 4:45 pm:

    Rich Miller briefly touched on it, but the important point is that our Governor has no standing to any candidate, even the one from Illinois to get this project reconsidered. What is Blogo going to threaten to do, remove his support. A perfect example of how corrupt politics affects average citizens.

  22. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 4:45 pm:

    A few votes in Mattoon are not a dealbreaker for the Gov. He has made his noise for show, and now it’s back in the bunker “North of 80″.

  23. - IncrediblyDumberThanYouThink - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 4:49 pm:

    Mr./Ms GoBares:
    They are called revenue bonds for a reason — dah!
    But tax dollars could be used. What did you think the feds were planning to spend? Deposits from the Tooth Fairy?
    Of Course the Blaggodiot does not raise taxes
    Hence the Administration Motto —- Incredibly Dumber Than You Think. Thanks for making my point.
    P.S. Where is WymaMontana hosting the Superbowl Party?

  24. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 5:02 pm:

    For a moment, I thought the Gov. had been forced to take his meds. But on further reflection, it fits his pattern of “everyone should agree with me.”

    He should have hopped a plane to where the President is hiding and insisted on a meeting with the Sec of Energy and the Pres as well as the Illinois Congressional delegation to discuss the variety of ways in which Energy has decided to short Illinois.

    I do not think it shows a lack of clout for the Illinois delegation, but more a changing of the guard as well as a fight between the imperial president and the legislature. The response from Congress should be to pass legislation that backs up the initial determination by FutureGen alliance and then round up bipartisan support. The Republicans in the House and Senate should start running from King George any day now as concern develops over keeping their seats.

    It’s saddens me to note the parallels between Bush & Blago with respect to their ideas of how to exercise powers of the executive branch.

  25. - Vole - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 5:25 pm:

    I’d have to agree with the guv on this one. We need better information on where the candidates stand on the details of specific energy plans rather than always talking in generalities. The candidates need to be pressed by other politicians representing interests in many different states. The average citizen does not have the pull to get their questions to the candidates and the media are often chasing the trivia.

  26. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 5:32 pm:

    I doubt anyone would even open the letter.

  27. - rottimom - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 5:38 pm:

    The feds give tax breaks and rebates to the auto industry overseas, while taxing our companies to the top!!
    Romney will invest in our industry with grants to explore technology and research to send our economy sailing. He is a great businessman and leader.
    Ask what the candidates are going to do for our industry? You will see for yourself….McCain already sold out our industry….he continue in the same direction…

  28. - Bob the Builder - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 6:17 pm:

    Well, well. When are we going to hear the Gov admit that IL is a crummy place to to business and after the Feds have had the chance to put some final cost estimates on just how much more this project is going to cost because of high workers comp costs, high unemployment insurance costs, high litigation costs, high health insurance costs, GRT proposals, PLA’s and all the other high costs in IL they decided to pull out.

    Maybe now the Admin will get the clue why no one else is building in this state!

  29. - Gregor - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 7:14 pm:

    Vanilla Man, I stand in awe of your continued display of acumen: Your beans are pure.

    As I understood it, the overruns were more over technical details than intangibles like insurance costs and litigation. The state indemnified the project, so that takes care of any threat about lawsuits. The state and the coalition even told Bodman he could cap the funds at or near the original amount and private industry and our state would make up the shortfall, so that negates the overruns as the deal breaker.

    But they didn’t bite, back in Washington. So I conclude they wanted this project dead way before this week. A cynic would say it was killed to pay for a handful more of blast-resistant trucks for the Iraq War. There are so many national programs starving for money that could have been available but for this war. Sorry for the derailing comment, but I think that’s where we are: the President keeps pushing more tax cuts while national spending on Iraq is bleeding the nation white, and a down economy means the tax cuts are not being made up with new revenues fast enough to counter the overall slide… He’s got his agency heads digging into the couch cushions for spare change to keep already-existing programs going. And there sits Futuregen, an orphan because Illinois doesn’t have the pull. Easy target. Redistribute the money to places that “matter” to the President’s agenda. By coincidence, the other projects may even have merit. But that’s immaterial. Illinois has nothing Bush wants. That’s why we’re sc$%#ed over.

    I don’t think you can blame Durbin. He was in and backing the project from the start, and a dem-controlled House would not stand in the way of a senior Senator of the same party. It could have been petulant payback for Durbin’s defiance in a lame duck president’s last year. I happen to think Dick was right on in everything he’s done and said. But I think it’s just purely about the money and the fact we have nothing Bush needs from us.

    Blago’s lame duckness is certainly not a help: while his DCEO people were working their butts off, he was taking it easy and not getting personally involved. Worse, he was actually CUTTING other coal-related funds right at this key point in time. Why would a sane person make that kind of mixed public signal? Maybe he already knew a long time ago that futuregen was going to be aborted. Hints had been in the wind for a while. He has to be privy to more information than we citizens get. He certainly could have been stupid enough to ignore the warnings. Or petulant enough to defy them. He loves making Bush the bad guy for his histrionic made-up dramas like the cheap meds importation scheme. Hanging a dead futuregen project on Bush is his style. And the dismal polling he has down south means it’s no big election loss, he’s never getting re-elected by THOSE people again.

    Based on past history, my cynical theory is that he knew this was a dead project well before now, and Blago played along just to get some positive in-state press pops out of it for as long as he could. He got what he could get out of it and the heck with anything or anybody else. He already knew he had better things to do with the money he took from the coal programs. His mistake was in diverting it *before* the bad news hit the fan, kind of like telegraphing your punch, it seems to me. Puzzlingly bad strategy for a reputed Golden Gloves boxer. But a completely credible theory when you consider the prior shenannigans of this governor.

    Now he’s trying to use this to ride the candidate’s coat tails, not for any altruistic reasons for Illinois, but to distract from his scandals and look like he’s doing something when its actually other people that do the thing.

    Blago is irrelevant, has made himself so. He should just siddown and shaddap because he ain’t any help now.

  30. - save a horse ride a harley - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 8:07 pm:

    Well, if he could get out of the bunker and was a statesman, maybe he could go to DC and make his case, in person. Letters can be filed in the circular file and those from Baloneyvich probably are.

  31. - Little Egypt - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 10:37 pm:

    Rodney Dangerfield lives in Illinois in the form of Rod Baloneyvich. Poor Rod can’t get any respect in his own state and for sure, he will get no respect out of any of the presidential candidates. Hey Rod, get out and get those 6 governors convinced to support Obama and perhaps you will have his ear for 15 seconds, as long as the press isn’t around and there are no cameras to capture the event on film. If you don’t deliver the support, Obama will justifiably have no time for you. Obama has enough problems explaining Rezko. He doesn’t need you added to the mix.

  32. - rottimom - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 7:00 am:

    I am not sure you have read about Romney and understand he does cut waste in government and lower taxes. He did it in Mass. he goes after crooks in government and they are gone!
    There was a 250 mil.surplus when he left office.
    Read about this man….he will bring business and jobs….

    Here is article about one of the Mass. employees Romney got rid of.

  33. - Holdingontomywallet - Friday, Feb 1, 08 @ 7:32 am:

    The Gov. is getting some of his own treatment. You can’t keep poking the Feds in the eye and expect to get favorable responses from them. FutureGen would be great for Illinois and it is an important project for the future of coal. Let’s face it, the Feds and other states know what is going on in Illinois and Blago and the dems have made us the joke of the party. You can’t continue to snub your nose at the Feds (e.g.,flu vaccine)and expect them to run to your aid when you want something. Way to go Blago - your style of polltics has turned full circle on you - enjoy….

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