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Quinn vetoes bills to set up coal-to-gas plants

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

Gov. Quinn on Monday vetoed legislation that would have set into motion construction of a $3 billion coal gasification plant on Chicago’s Southeast Side, at 11600 S. Burley Ave., and a $1 billion plant in southern Illinois. Utility companies would have been required to buy synthetic natural gas from the Chicago plant for 30 years and from the one in Jefferson County for 10.

But critics said the synthetic natural gas made from coal and refining waste would cost more than natural gas and that cost would be passed onto residential customers. They estimated consumers would pay as much as $190 more per year beginning about 2015 and continuing for two decades.

Quinn acknowledged that in his veto messages.

“Inadequate consumer protections and high energy costs will not create jobs in Illinois,” Quinn wrote in one veto message. “Until I am satisfied that consumers are protected, burdens are shared, and jobs are created, I will not affix my signature to this bill.”

The Environmental Law & Policy Center applauded Quinn, saying the legislation allowing the Chicago plant by New York-based Leucadia National Corp. and the southern Illinois operation by Power Holdings of Illinois would have required utilities to buy the synthetic gas at above market prices.

“Illinois shouldn’t legislate sweetheart deals for specific energy companies,” center Executive Director Howard Learner said.

Environmentalists feared pollution caused by coal gasification. Jack Darin of the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter, congratulated Quinn for nixing “bailouts for two risky, dirty coal plants.”

AP with David McKinney contributing

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