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Three Times is Not a Charm for Cullerton’s Coal Push

By JoshMogerman in News on Oct 29, 2011 8:00PM

Yeti Coal [afagen]

You have to appreciate Senate President John Cullerton’s sheer stick-to-it-iveness. This week his controversial bill forcing Illinois utilities to purchase power from a new so-called “clean coal” project to be developed by Tenaska Energy was voted down for the third time. But before Senate Bill 678 could crash and burn, Cullerton used a parliamentary trick to keep it alive for yet another vote later in the veto session. If at first you don’t succeed...

A wall-to-wall advertising push on Chicago’s airwaves has been running to back the Tenaska bill, but outside of the Senate President and Taylorville (where the plant would be built), the proposal does not have a lot of friends. Talk about strange bedfellows; utilities and business interests, as well as most of the state’s major environmental groups were united in opposition. ComEd takes umbrage at being forced to buy the plant’s more expensive electricity. Business interests express concern that elevated energy costs will scare away commerce. And while the greens concede that the plant could be cleaner than much of the state’s aging coal fleet, they are angered by clear disparities between lofty technological claims made in the aggressive advertising campaigns promoting the bill and the realities of the plant’s proposed pollution permits (NRDC’s Rebecca Stanfield blogged pretty convincingly about the “the awesome-but-imaginary benefits of the bill claimed in [the] ads.”)

Energy issues have been pretty prominent in Springfield of late. With the controversial ComEd bill and a pair of contentious proposals to force state gas utilities to purchase dirtier and more expensive artificial natural gas derived from coal, we are left wondering if the General Assembly is taking on day-to-day electricity regulatory powers too. With Legislators closing out the veto session in November, we will be interested to see if Senator Cullerton continues this trend or decides that three times is indeed a charm and lets his bill drop once and for all.