Sept. 3 — The Environmental Protection Agency has granted the first-ever Class VI underground injection permits for carbon dioxide to FutureGen Industrial Alliance Inc., which plans to construct an innovative near zero-emission, coal-fired power plant in southern Illinois.
In a statement released Sept. 2, the EPA said it approved a permit proposal for the FutureGen 2.0 carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) project, allowing for carbon sequestration near Jacksonville, Ill.
The agency's approval marks the first time the EPA has issued permits for carbon sequestration.
The action follows the Department of Energy decision earlier this year to issue a favorable record of decision, allowing for construction of the FutureGen 2.0 power facility.
EPA said it completed a technical review of the permits and responded to more than 280 public comments before granting final approval. FutureGen may begin drilling the wells next month in preparation for injecting liquefied carbon dioxide. The four wells will be drilled to a depth of approximately 4,000 feet.
The nonprofit alliance is made up of coal mining and electric power companies that include Alpha Natural Resources Inc., Anglo American SA, Joy Global Inc. and Peabody Energy Corp.
EPA said FutureGen 2.0 plans to annually capture and inject 1.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide for 20 years. The agency noted that the CCS project would have the effect of removing the carbon emissions of the equivalent of 232,000 automobiles.
The FutureGen Alliance project will modernize boiler units at the Meredosia Energy Center with oxy-combustion technology to capture 90 percent of the carbon emissions, and will reduce other emissions to near-zero levels.
The project originally was proposed by former President George W. Bush a decade ago. It received support from the administration of President Barack Obama in 2010, which pledged $1 billion through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Ken Humphreys, chief executive officer of FutureGen Alliance, said the approval paves the way for further development of the project.
“The issuance of the permit is a major milestone that will allow FutureGen 2.0 to stay on track to develop the first ever commercial-scale, near-zero emissions coal-fueled power plant with integrated carbon capture and storage,” Humphreys said in a statement.
“The Alliance appreciates the work the EPA has done to complete the permitting process,” he said. “This new class of permit offers a superior level of environmental protection, monitoring, and financial assurances.”
Despite action on the FutureGen 2.0 permits, the long-delayed project continues to face challenges. The power facility continues to be the target of a complaint brought by the Sierra Club before the Illinois Pollution Control Board. The Sierra Club objects to potential air pollution from the project. FutureGen 2.0 also faces a September 2015 deadline to use $1 billion in Recovery Act funding.
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