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‘Clean Coal’ Takes Another Hit in Final Stimulus Bill

The past 24 hours have not been kind to King Coal.

First, plans to open new coal power plants in Michigan and Nevada were put on hold, and Gov. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) came out against a South Carolina plant, all due to environmental concerns and anticipated carbon emissions controls.

Now, the details of the compromise stimulus bill, expected to get a vote in Congress tomorrow, reveal that funding for so-called clean coal has been stripped from the package altogether.

The House bill did not provide for clean coal funding, but the Senate version contained two provisions to support the industry. The first provided $2 billion for “near zero emissions power plants,” likely clean coal plants such as Illinois’ FutureGen. The second made $1 billion “available for selections under the Department’s Clean Coal Power Initiative Round III Funding Opportunity Announcement.”

Neither of these provisions survived in the compromise reached yesterday.

The whole concept of clean coal has been dismissed as everything from an oxymoron to a nightmare. President Obama spoke out in favor of clean coal on the campaign trail, but today’s news indicates that the country’s energy future lies elsewhere, and it’s unlikely that Obama will resist.

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