FutureGen, the U.S. Department of Energy’s massive “clean coal” demonstration plant, will be sited in Mattoon, Ill., officials announced this morning. Three other potential locations for the plant each lobbied heavily for the roughly $1.8 billion project to be built on their turf — one other site in Illinois and two others in Texas. The FutureGen project, which also aims to eventually produce some hydrogen from coal, is generally regarded by greens as an expensive bad idea that diverts funds from efficiency improvements and genuinely clean, renewable forms of energy. But the project, a government/industry partnership, has been exciting coal folk who are thrilled at the (distant) possibility of viable “clean coal” and carbon sequestration technology, if indeed there are such things. The project aims to be online by 2012.