State Legislature Continues Wrangling Over Rockport Plant Bill

Top officials in the Indiana House and Senate have found a new bill that they plan to insert legislation into which could determine the fate of the $2.8 billion coal-gasification plant proposed for Rockport.

House speaker Brian Bosma says after the measure concerning the Rockport plant is finalized, it will be put into Senate Bill 494.

This decision comes after House leaders decided to allow another bill concerning the Rockport plant to die without coming to a vote. That bill was found to be so watered down as to be ineffective and thus was allowed to die.

Bosma says he wants a final draft of the legislation to be negotiated starting with the much tougher version of the bill which passed the House Utility Committee before any changes take place. That bill was favored by opponents of the project, with developers saying it would essentially end the project.

That bill would require the 30-year contract signed by the Indiana Finance Authority for purchase and re-sale of gas produced by the plant to go back to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

The commission’s task would be to ensure that the deal guarantees savings for Indiana ratepayers over the life of the contract. Developers claim that the House Utility Committee version of the bill would unfairly tack on new standards.

Bosma appointed Rep. Suzanne Crouch, an Evansville Republican who sponsored the recent legislation, as his top negotiator for the House-Senate conference committee which will put together the final draft of SB 494. House Democrats have appointed Vincennes representative Kreg Battles, who has supported the Rockport project in his votes on the House floor.