Labor organizations are urging the governor to sign natural gas legislation that business and consumer groups oppose. The matter in question is legislation authorizing the Leucadia National Corp. artificial natural gas plant, proposed for Chicago, the construction of which consumer and business groups say will raise the cost of natural gas for Ameren and NICOR customers.
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But it has its advantages beyond jobs and $3 billion in industrial development in Chicago, says State Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago). “This project not only benefits the city of Chicago, it benefits Downstate,” he said. “It creates jobs Downstate utilizing one of our natural resources, coal!” The legislation commits the plant to using at least 35 percent Illinois coal. Labor groups and sponsoring lawmakers want the governor to sign this before all the plants like this are built in other states. As for the discrepancy over the effect on natural gas prices between proponents and opponents, State Rep. Joseph M. Lyons (D-Chicago), the House sponsor of the legislation, says the crux of the issue is future natural gas prices. Natural gas is cheap now, making coal gasification look like an economic loser, but Lyons believes the price will rise and make the plant economically sound.