Pollution in Quinn's Pen? The Fight Over Leucadia on the Southeast Side

By JoshMogerman in News on Feb 12, 2011 8:00PM

The State Legislature never seems to tire of boondoggles. And the General Assembly put together a doozy earlier this year when they found an expensive, highly-polluting solution to what seems like a non-existent problem that Illinois homeowners will get to pay for if the Governor signs a pair of bills on his desk. A diverse array of local groups have mounted a campaign to keep Quinn’s hand off the pen to sign bills floating a new dirty facility on the Southeast side.

Downstate coal lobbyists convinced the General Assembly to pass a pair of bills to speed the creation of two plants that would turn coal into synthetic natural gas and then force utilities throughout the state to buy that product at a premium, despite the glut of cheap natural gas available nationally. The Trib puts a $191/year price tag for the typical cost increase to heat an impacted Illinois home if the bills pass, which has consumer groups griping. And despite the “clean coal” moniker, the facility is set to dirty the air in an area already struggling with an array of pollution issues, setting off environmentalists and community groups alike.

That combination has resulted in a slow boil of community meetings, legal maneuvers, editorials, lobbying, and a letter campaign to the Governor pushing him to veto the coal gasification plant bills. But there is another potential outcome…nothing. The bill must be signed in March or it goes the way of Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage.