DOE Officially Ends FutureGen Funding—Subpoenas to Come?

The United States Department of Energy announced on June 13 that the Department is formally ending all funding for FutureGen, a public-private partnership to develop a coal-fired, “near-zero emissions” power plant incorporating CCS technology on a commercially viable scale.DOE had announced in January that it would withdraw its support for the project, but was contractually obligated to continue its cost-share arrangement into June.The FutureGen Alliance, a consortium of major coal producers and users formed to partner with the Department of Energy in the project, has affirmed its commitment to proceed with the project, slated to be built near Mattoon, Illinois.The 13-member group appears to be lobbying vigorously for Congressional action to restore federal funding to the project.Questions remain as to why the DOE pulled the plug on the project.The House Science and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment held a hearing on April 15, 2008, to probe the Department’s handling of the FutureGen project.The Committee’s Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee has also scheduled a business meeting on June 19 to consider issuing a subpoena to compel DOE to produce records related to the decision to cancel the project.