Future of nixed gas plant site cloudy
By Mike Nolan email@example.com August 15, 2012 8:52PM
Updated: September 17, 2012 12:35PM
After seeing plans for a coal gasification plant vaporize, the three Southland men who own the property it was to have been built on are unsure of what will happen to the 140-acre site.
The partners who operate a business on part of the property, 114th Street and Burley Avenue, had a tentative deal to sell all of the land to Chicago Clean Energy, which intended to spend $3 billion on a facility that would turn Illinois coal and petroleum coke into synthetic natural gas. Last week, Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed the final piece of legislation needed to make the plant a reality.
“We don’t really know what’s next,” Alan Beemsterboer, an Orland Park resident who owns the property with his two cousins, said Wednesday. “It’s kind of a big turnaround of events.”
He said it was “too early” to say whether they’d try to find another buyer for the property.
Chicago Clean Energy and its parent, Leucadia National, had waged an expensive public relations campaign to convince Quinn to sign the bill, one of a number of pieces of legislation the General Assembly had approved in connection with the plant.
The bill would have required Nicor and downstate utility Ameren to buy the higher-priced synthetic gas for 30 years. Opponents of the project said consumers would have shouldered a disproportionate share of the cost of building the plant.
With the promise of 1,100 construction jobs, unions representing tradespeople had backed the project, and Beemsterboer described as “incongruous” Quinn’s veto considering his pro-jobs agenda.
“We’re really disappointed in the governor’s action,” Beemsterboer said. “He sure disappointed a lot of people.”
Leucadia — which also is building a coal gasification plant in southern Indiana — said in a statement that although it is “deeply disappointed” by the governor’s veto, it will not try to rally legislators to override the decision.
Beemsterboer and his cousins — Simon Beemsterboer, of Mokena, and Steve Beemsterboer, of Frankfort — bought the land in late 2002. It had been used by LTV Steel, which operated a coke plant there, and the Beemsterboers’ original plan was to resume producing metallurgical coke, using a cleaner method.
They operate a business on the property, Calumet Transload, which handles road salt used by Chicago-area suburbs and would have had to relocate had Leucadia’s plans been approved.
Leucadia and Chicago Clean Energy had pledged to spend nearly $30 million cleaning up the contaminated site. Beemsterboer said he and his cousins have spent a significant amount of money cleaning the property.