First, let me admit my bias about CCS technology. I think the world will need it eventually, but that it is the most expensive and least viable option we have for making serious carbon reductions over the next ~25 years. As currently envisioned, it is a really bad energy idea. With a 30% parasitic load for current technology CCS, you need 1 coal plant simply to power the capture devices for 3 others - an immense waste of energy resources! From a carbon emissions perspective, we'd be much better off over the next ~20-30 years by investing most of those $$$ in demand reduction and simply replacing aging base-load coal generating capacity (~15-35% thermal efficiency) with nuclear or new coal (~60-65% thermal efficiency).
Second, it is very important to distinguish Future-gen from the CCS R&D program. The private sector is completely capable of testing and deploying an IGCC facility on it's own without government help. My opinion is that they just don't want to spend the money, because their stock values are higher if they "stick the R&D cost to the taxpayer rather than the investor". For example, compare the $$ the coal industry has invested in R&D versus other, more dynamic sectors of the energy industry.
Third, the private sector members of the Futuregen alliance are reputed to have viewed this as a production facility rather than and R&D facility — while DOE viewed it as an R&D facility. If true, then the alliance tried to pad their pockets with public $$$, and that is no way to run a research project….
Fourth, back to the technical problems with CCS as envisioned. There are two huge problems — scale and infrastructure. If I remember the numbers correctly, a friend of mine who is involved in the CCS program estimated that duplication of the volumetric capacity of the entire global infrastructure for oil and gas extraction would only sequester ~20% of current global CO2 emissions. If accurate, then building pipelines from individual plants to sequestration sites is not a solution that is likely to work at scale.
As an aside — one interesting CCS issue that hasn't been seriously addressed yet is the extent to which it might be more reasonable to do atmospheric capture powered by a low-carbon source (such as nuclear, wave, off-shore wind or geothermal). This would allow you to locate your capture site directly above an optimum reservoir (such as subsurface oceanic basalt on the continental shelves), and manipulate atmospheric carbon fluxes without building 1000's of miles of pipelines and dealing with difficult policy and risk management issues associated with terrestrial sequestration. There is a technology being developed in Canada right now that is estimated to sequester 4 tons of atmospheric CO2 for every 1 ton emitted - if powered by natural gas. The lifecycle carbon returns would probably be ~200 times higher if powered by nuclear. This could theoretically be done at a cost of ~$200 - $300 / mton (if memory serves), but has a very interesting wind problem… think of what happens if you suck wind at ~10 m/s into a set of intake ports the combined area of a football stadium.
Bottom line. My opinion is that Futuregen (as it was operating) is a political project whose purpose is not to find the best solution to our carbon emissions problems from fossil resources — but to locate a coal-industry boondoggle in politically important places. I think DOE was very, very, very smart to kill it and focus more on overcoming the true science challenges (capture technology, sequestration R&D). If a Futuregen effort were to be restarted, government involvement should focus almost exclusively on capture and sequestration R&D — and this should take place at multiple sites that use multiple types of coal combustion technologies and have different sequestration environments for testing.
The scientific work for CCS desperately needs to be done, but I don't think Futuregen is the vehicle to do it. This project needs to be about carbon managment technologies (e.g. Future Carbon) and not coal-fired power generation technologies (e.g. FutureGen).