Last month, Revmodo reported on a sneaky scheme to construct a new coal plant in Chicago. Even calling it the “Chicago Clean Energy project” couldn’t prevent the public and environmental organizations from fighting a proposal to build a coal gasification plant on the city’s far southeast side. Now, it seems that Gov. Pat Quinn has listened to the people’s complaints, and vetoed the industry-backed SB 3766 … for now.

Coal gasification is basically is the process of producing coal gas, a type of syngas – a mixture of carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen (H2), carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor (H2O) – by burning coal. Leucadia National Corp., the company that proposed the plant, tried to claim that this is clean energy, but at best it’s merely a little bit “cleaner” than burning coal directly.

In his statement regarding the veto, Gov. Quinn made sure to avoid any admission that coal is bad for Chicagoans’ health. Instead, he pointed to the fact that the coal gasification plant would have unfairly required customers of two utilities to foot the bill for its construction. As Revmodo pointed out in July, “a key element of the bill would allow Leucadia National Corporation to pass along 100 percent of the $3 billion plant construction costs to suburban Chicago and downstate ratepayers.”

In his veto message, Gov. Quinn noted that when the plant was originally proposed, four utilities in the state were supposed to buy gas produced by it and thus share in its costs, reports The State Journal-Register. However, two companies later opted out of the deal, leaving only Nicor and Ameren willing to buy gas produced by the plant.

SB 3766 would have required Ameren and Nicor to sign 30-year contracts to buy natural gas from Leucadia National Corp.’s proposed Chicago “clean coal” plant. The two utilities’ customers would have been required to cover all, or nearly all, of the $3 billion required to build and operate the plant, and could have paid significantly higher rates.

The Citizens Utility Board applauded Gov. Quinn for protecting Illinois consumers in this way, but said it is willing to work with Leucadia National Corp. and other parties to structure a proposal that is fair to all Illinois consumers.

Main photo credit: vxla/Flickr