By Arnold Wyrick
CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - Back in 2003 legislators from Illinois and coal industry leaders proposed building a near-zero emissions power plant in the state. But, they weren't alone so did several other state's lawmakers via for the federal project.
In the end the Matoon, Illinois site won out. Then just when it looked like the project was a go, the former President George Bush pulled the plug on the project.
Now some legislators allege that the former president was playing politics and not basing his decision on the facts may be correct.
"After five years of competition, millions of dollars being spend, they walked away from it and we asked why? And they said it cost too much. Well, last night, the government accounting office came out with their report and you know what they found? They found that the Department of Energy overstated the cost of this FutureGen research plant by 500 million dollars," said Illinois Senator Dick Durbin.
Now researchers at Southern Illinois University's Coal Research Center say the plant should be built in Illinois.
"China, Europe and other parts of the world they're looking at this kind of technology. They're all looking at how to reduce CO2 emissions. At the same time a lot of the world depends on coal as does the United States," said John Mead, SIU's Director of Coal Research.
"Even though the project is not going to be built in southern Illinois it's really going to focus on how we use coal in the future."
Mead points out that the university and others have already spent millions of dollars on studies and soil samples to make the project shovel-ready.
"So for the Department of Energy to say that we couldn't afford to do it, just didn't make sense. We need to do this kind of project and we need to do others to really prove these technologies," Mead said.