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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 10, 2001

Ryan, Durbin Set Southern Illinois Roundtable on Coal, Energy Issues

CARBONDALE -- Governor George H. Ryan and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin will assemble state and federal leaders in the coal, energy and related industries next week to discuss a wide range of issues related to the revival of Illinois coal.

Ryan and Durbin will co-host the roundtable on May 18, from 1 p.m. - 3 p.m. at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale Student Center in Ballroom D. The discussion is entitled: "Illinois Coal in the 21st Century."

Ryan, a Republican governor, and Durbin, a Democrat and the senior U.S. Senator from Illinois, hope to forge a bipartisan coalition at the state and federal level to support development of downstate Illinois coal reserves using clean coal technology.

To guide them, Durbin and Ryan have invited nearly two-dozen congressmen and legislators, as well as coal industry and labor leaders, coal policy and clean-coal research experts to discuss how coal can become an even bigger part of the state and nation's future energy mix.

"Coal is an affordable source of energy in great abundance right here in Illinois," Ryan said. "As a new federal energy policy is put into place, we have a tremendous opportunity to re-energize the coal industry in Illinois."

"In Illinois, we have experienced the economic nightmares of skyrocketing natural gas prices and nationwide uncertainty about how future power demands will be met," Sen. Durbin said. "These events raise the prospect of a possible turnaround for coal. Clean coal technology may help us use this major Illinois resource without sacrificing the environment."

John Mead, director of the SIU-C Coal Research Center, will serve as moderator of the roundtable. Members of the public also are invited to attend the event.

Ryan, Durbin and their respective staffs have been working to organize the roundtable and develop a common pro-coal strategy for the past several weeks. The event has become even more timely with the Bush Administration's impending release of details about its new federal energy, as well an array of coal-development proposals under consideration by the Illinois General Assembly during the final two weeks of its spring session in Springfield.

"We need to frame the issues of importance to the Illinois coal business, and not let partisan or regional politics prevent us from forging a decisive plan of action," Gov. Ryan said. "Senator Durbin and I agree that our common interests far outweigh our differences in supporting policies that create jobs and economic development in downstate Illinois."


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