Illinois’ nearly $1-billion-a-year coal industry has had some big setbacks recently. Chicago’s Fisk and Crawford coal-fired power plants have shut down after a long war with environmentalists. Three more “clean coal” plant proposals—in Chicago, Taylorville, and Washington County—are dead for now, turned back by the Legislature or gubernatorial veto. And the Prairie State plant and mine was just the subject of a critical report projecting its power could cost up to double what was promised.
Still, Illinois officials point to coal’s “rich and proud tradition,” and its 250-year supply in the Land of Lincoln. Supporters argue that coal plays a “vital role” as an energy source, providing thousands of jobs and economic stability to communities. And, state officials say, Illinois' coal reserves contain more energy than the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia.
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