Southeast Side Residents Want Quinn To Block Coal Plant

CHICAGO (CBS) — A war has been brewing on Chicago’s Southeast Side over a proposed $3 billion coal-powered synthetic gas plant.

The plant would be built at 116th Street and Burley Avenue. Supports have said it will bring new jobs and green economic development. But as CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports, critics are calling on the governor to veto the project.

A synthetic gas plant would be built at a 140-acre site at 116th and Burley. The facility would be used to convert goal to heating gas, a process called gasification.

The Chicago Clean Energy development team called it clean, green and a huge boost to the economy.

“It’s going to put a lot of people to work. It’s going to save ratepayers money. It’s going to advance a clean energy technology in Illinois that’s really a path forward,” said Hoyt Hudson of Eco-Industrial Development.

But local residents said they were never asked what they thought.

“We’ve not been informed at all,” said a very angry Manuel Soriano. “Oh yes. I’m angry and I’m disgusted.”

Soriano said that, with schools and homes nearby, he has one primary concern.

“Health, health, we need the health,” he said.

Hudson disagrees.

“This will be one of the cleanest energy facilities in the entire country,” he said. “Also by law, we’ll be subject to some of the most stringent environmental protocols in the entire country.”

But residents have other concerns.

The legislation allowing the facility calls upon the state’s gas companies to enter 30-year contracts with New York-based developer Leucadia. And that makes some residents nervous.

“Yeah, because you’ve cinched into a 30-year contract, like the Skyway, the parking meters. Those things are iron-clad. You can’t get out of those.”

The deal also allows the company to sell its fuel at prices equal to about double the current wholesale natural gas prices.

Residents aren’t alone in their opposition. A recent Chicago Tribune editorial called the project “a raw deal” for some of the gas companies and said it was “rammed through the House with scant review.”

How will it impact the cost of gas to consumers?

“The law requires us to lower rather than raise rates,” said Hudson.

And if they don’t?

“There will be mechanisms in the contract by which that can be enforced,” he said.

The plant will bring about 2,000 jobs during construction, but only 200 permanent jobs.

Critics want Gov. Pat Quinn to veto the legislation. A spokesperson said the governor supports measures that sustain jobs and renewable energy, but did not specify whether he would sign the bill for the coal gasification plant.

Even if he signs it, the permit process would offer lots of opportunities for public input.

  • Mr Voter

    Shut fools voted for that fat head Quinn now live with him till the Feds cart him off to the Big House or a RE-CALL is pushed on him….
    RE-CALL QUINN ……..
    IL. Land of Corruption…………….

  • Anielle Lipe

    Please advocate on our behalf and speak with Governor Pat Quinn about not
    signing the legislative bill into law that would cause Illinois residents
    heating bill to increase!

    More importantly, don’t allow the company,Leucadia National Corp to build and
    operate a synthetic gas plant on the south side of Chicago that would further
    pollute the air in the area. It has been published in the Chicago Tribune
    Newspaper quoted by Jack Darin, director of the Siera Club, Illinois Chapter
    that “25 to 75 percent of the feedstock burned at Leucadia facility which is
    turned into gas would come from waste from oil refineries. That feedstock would contain heavy metals known to cause birth defects and Cancer”.

    I have family and friends that live on the south side of Chicago specifically
    104th & Rhodes,Chicago,IL which isn’t far from the proposed site where Leucadia wants to build. I’m concerned for my family & friend’s health & well being. In fact, both of my parents who use to live on a 104th & Rhodes in Chicago have passed from some form of Cancer. I believe the air pollution coming from near by factories and steel mills caused their Cancers, We don’t need another company like Leucadia to further pollute the air and cause even more illnesses of Cancer and birth defects.

    To further substantiate my concern, the Tribune article quotes David Kolata,
    executive director of the Citizens Utility Board that “even though Leucadia is
    required to figure a way to sequester greenhouse gas emissions, the legislative
    bill provides an out that would allow the company to pay a $20 million charge
    instead and possibly face a review by the state’s attorney general”. This $20
    million charge is chump change to a large company like Leucadia that is willing
    to pay $3 billion to construct this plant along the Calumet River at 11600 S.
    Burley Ave, Chicago, IL.

    I don’t want a similar scenario that happened in Crestwood, IL where the
    polluted drinking water caused Cancer to many residents in that suburb also
    cause Cancer to my family and friends as a result of being exposed to the
    pollutants at Leucadia’s plant. Most importantly this is a Health & Safety
    issue. I expect the government to protect the citizens of Illinois from such
    dangers that Leucadia and companies of the like would cause. Secondary, this is a financial issue of Illinois residents being able to afford to heat our homes.

    Ask Governor Quinn not to sign the legislative bill that would allow Leucadia or
    any gas plant to build or operate near residential areas which threatens the
    Health and Safety of the residents. Who cares if 200 jobs will be created when the emmissions can kill the community. This bill provides no consumer protection. Also Governor Quinn should Not sign the bill because it will restrict
    competition by forcing the state’s four natural gas utilities to purchase gas
    produced by these gas plants. We all know that when there is a restriction of
    competition, consumers loose out and Pay more!

    Anielle Lipe

  • John Lipe


  • Meeting Planned To Discuss Southeast Side Coal Plant « CBS Chicago

    […] A new coal gasification plant is planned for a region that has had more than its share of pollution … […]

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