When the stimulus was in the works, President Obama went to great lengths to show he was sacrificing his top pet project—a clean-coal power plant to be built in Illinois—on the altar of fiscal responsibilities. “It shows that we’re serious,” a rep for Nancy Pelosi said at the time. “There will not be earmarks in this bill.” But the plant is getting stimulus cash after all—$1 billion of it, Politico reports.
The administration insists this wasn’t an earmark, because the bill doesn’t specifically carve out money for FutureGen by name. It just happens to be the only “shovel-ready” project to fit certain narrow criteria in the bill. Critics, like Sen. Tom Coburn, say the plant’s administration backers and lobbyists made sure that was the case. “FutureGen is the most expensive earmark in history,” says the Oklahoma Republican.