SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS/WBBM) – Gov. Pat Quinn has vetoed a bill that would have authorized the construction of a coal gasification plant on the Chicago’s Southeast Side.
The bill passed by state legislators would have required utilities to buy synthetic gas from the proposed new plant for 30 years. New York-based developer Leucadia National would have constructed the plant at 116th Street and Burley Avenue – the site of the old Republic Steel plant.
Quinn vetoed the bill on Monday.
Hoyt Hudson of Eco-Industrial Development, which is behind the plant, said earlier this year that the planned facility would turn dirty coal into clean synthetic natural gas.
But residents of the Southeast Side did not agree with the “clean” part, and are concerned about the potential health effects of gasifying coal and pet coke – the toxic waste generated by refining tar sands. They say Leucadia is planning the facility in “a densely populated area already struggling with the health and economic ramifications of heavy pollution.”
With the plan now off the table, Phil Gonet of the Illinois Coal Association says the is sitting on 200 billion tons of coal, which makes it, by far, the state’s most reliable source of power now and in the future.
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He says for that reason, the state must continue to invest in coal.
“About 47 percent of the state’s power comes from coal,” Gonet said. “You can put up all the windmills you want, and it’s not going to replace coal.”
The bill would also have authorized a new coal plant in Jefferson County in Southern Illinois.