The biggest earmark in American history has been doled out to a company in Illinois, the President's home state, in the name of green jobs. The President's $862 billion Stimulus plan has been an abysmal failure. It provided states and localities with billions in bailout moneys, funded wasteful projects like the Monkey cocaine study at Wake Forest and given false hope to Americans that the President has ideas to turn around the economy. This earmark is an outrage and the signature project of the President's Stimulus plan. Thankfully, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) is sounding the alarm bells and educating the American people to this new Obama outrage.
President Obama is earmarking $1 billion in Stimulus money "to build FutureGen 2.0, a clean coal repowering program and carbon dioxide (CO2) storage network" in his home state of Illinois. According to a Department of Energy press release, this billion is being provided to "FutureGen Alliance, Ameren Energy Resources, Babcock & Wilcox, and Air Liquide Process & Costruction, Inc. to build FutureGen 2.0, a clean coal repowering program and carbon dioxide (CO2) storage network." That is right -- $1 billion. This is the largest earmark of money in U.S. history and they are taking money right out of your pocket to pay for it.
The Department of Energy projects 1,900 jobs as a result of $1,000,000,000 in new spending. This works out to $526,315.79 of your tax dollars spent per job. A half million dollars per job seems to be a bad deal for the taxpayer. Of more concern to the taxpayer, Senator Tom Coburn believes this project to be more about bringing home pork to Illinois than providing stimulus to average Americans.
According to Secretary of Energy Steven Chu yesterday:
Today's announcement will help ensure the US remains competitive in a carbon constrained economy, creating jobs while reducing greenhouse gas pollution. This investment in the world's first, commercial-scale, oxy-combustion power plant will help to open up the over $300 billion market for coal unit repowering and position the country as a leader in an important part of the global clean energy economy
Although the President promised to keep the $862 billion stimulus plan free from earmarks, this project was an earmark in the Stimulus, yet the Washington Post reported on March 6, 2009:
Deep inside the economic stimulus package is a $1 billion prize that, in five short words, shows the benefits of being in power in Washington. The funding, for "fossil energy research and development," is likely to go to a power plant in a small Illinois town, a project whose longtime backers include a group of powerful lawmakers from the state, among them President Obama.
Now, the Department of Energy has announced the $1 billion in funding for the earmark in President Obama's home state. This earmark funnels tax dollars from Americans to Illinois. Senator Tom Coburn criticized the first version of this project, FutureGen 1.0, and an argues that this project calls in to question President Obama's Stimulus plan.
Senator Coburn said of the $1 billion earmark:
This costly and gratuitous earmark further calls into question the integrity of the Recovery Act. This decision appears to have more to do with politics and geography than science. FutureGen 1.0 was called ‘YesterGen’ because it had little scientific value. Now, taxpayers are being forced to finance the largest pork-barrel project in our nation’s history with borrowed money. Adding another $1 billion to our debt for a dubious project will only delay our recovery.
Coburn isn't the only one concerned. Some greenies on left argue that this project is not efficient and will not do enough to protect the environment. The original FutureGen plan was scaled back and the promises of capturing 90% of carbon emissions became a promise FutureGen could not keep.
The environmental group, the Clean Air Taskforce, was quoted in the Wyoming Business Report:
The reinstatement of FutureGen should be an important milestone and a day for celebration. Unfortunately, it is not. In scaling back the amount of carbon the plant will capture from 90 percent to 60 percent in order to cut costs, the Obama Administration has turned FutureGen to YesterGen.
For months, the Obama Administration and Congress said that the Stimulus language was not an earmark for this company in Illinois. We now know that assertion to be false. The actions yesterday from Secretary of Energy Steven Chu confirm suspicions that this is the biggest earmark in American history. FutureGen in Matoon, Illinois gets $1 billion and average Americans are provided with the bill.
President Obama, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Secretary Chu need to explain to the American people how this happened. How did this earmark get into the Stimulus? Why is the Obama Administration funnelling $1 billion into Illinois for a project of dubious effectiveness. Unemployment today stands at 9.5% and the Stimulus has proven to have had no effect on unemployment rates.
Ths President's Stimulus is a failure and many on the Hill are concerned about this project as evidence of special treatment for some companies in the President's home state. This is exactly the type of waste, fraud and abuse that motivate average Americans to join the Tea Party movement to continue to distrust the federal government.