2. $1 billion for FutureGen in Mattoon, Illinois is the “biggest earmark of all time” for a power plant that may never work.
5. $3.4 million for a wildlife “eco-passage” in Florida to take animals safely under a busy roadway.
FutureGen is a "clean coal" project. Personally, I'm against clean coal. I think we need to be pursuing other technologies instead. But a billion or so to find out if it can work doesn't seem like a lot, in the $3 trillion scheme of things.
The whole plant is supposed to be a proving ground for new technologies, so describing it as "a power plant that may never work" seems either flagrantly dishonest or just plain stupid. In his report, Coburn focuses heavily on former Energy Secretary Sam Bodman's criticism of the project, while ignoring current Energy Secretary Steven Chu's support for the project.
After poring over thousands upon thousands of projects, the #2 project on his list isn't nearly as dubious as Coburn portrays.
Regarding the "eco-passage", the latest research is indicating that fragmentation of habitat is dangerous to an ecosystem. Dividing a habitat in two (as a big highway does) can sometimes be as destructive as simply wiping out half of it. Wildlife corridors can help protect species.
If you are Republican enough, then any money spent protecting animals or preserving habitat is wasted by definition. That's probably the primary reason for putting this on the list. Either that, or Tom Coburn really likes the sound turtles make when they crunch under his wheels. But that's getting pretty damned Republican.