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Press Releases :: February 15, 2008

Gordon, Committee Leaders Ask GAO to Investigate FutureGen

(Washington, DC) Today, the Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology Bart Gordon (D-TN) – joined by fellow Committee Members Nick Lampson (D-TX), Jerry Costello (D-IL) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) – asked the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the Administration’s recent decision to pull their support for FutureGen – a project intended to demonstrate next generation coal-fired power production and the centerpiece of the Department of Energy’s(DOE) program on clean coal technology. 

On January 31, 2008, the DOE announced a significant departure from its clean coal initiative, FutureGen.  Originally conceived in 2003, FutureGen was touted as a pollution-free power plant of the future intended to showcase cutting-edge technologies to address climate change and advance the President’s hydrogen initiative. 

“The recent FutureGen announcement takes the program in a dramatically different direction.  The reasons for this abrupt change in the FutureGen program are unclear.  However, the Administration claims that increases in cost estimates for the program were a contributing factor in this decision.  We wish to have a better understanding of the developments in the program that led to this recent decision and an examination of the Administration’s rationale and plans for restructuring this program.  There is a need to accelerate the development of carbon capture and sequestration technologies and we want to ensure the Department’s approach to this challenge will deliver the capability we need in the most cost-effective and rapid time frame possible,” wrote the Chairman and Committee Leaders.

The Committee is asking GAO to investigate a number of concerns surrounding the Administration’s abandoning of FutureGen, including the methods DOE used to estimate the costs of the FutureGen program; what factors accounted for the increases in cost estimates that DOE reports as a major reason for restructuring the FutureGen initiative; and what costs, if any, are associated with the decision to terminate the existing FutureGen program and any contracts or cooperative agreements associated with it.

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