The crippling blow dealt this week to FutureGen, the U.S. government's
marquee effort to develop a "clean coal" power plant, will make it harder for
the utility sector to slash carbon-dioxide emissions and keep coal in the mix
over time as a cheap electricity source. It could also help push the nation
toward greater reliance on nuclear power.
On Wednesday, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said the Bush administration was
yanking its support for the project, whose price tag had ballooned to $1.8
billion, nearly double original estimates. Energy Department officials said it
was time to confront the cost issue, before equipment was ordered. Clay Sell,
deputy energy secretary, said the easier, less-responsible path would have been
to pretend everything was fine "and then when the thing went south, I could have
blamed the next administration for failing to bring this good idea to fruition."
Members of the FutureGen ...