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Details needed on proposed energy plant


Editorial


January 28, 2009
There has been much talk around the Milltown area about the 28-megawatt woody biomass renewable energy plant that developers hope to have operating northwest of the intersection of state roads 64 and 66 by late 2011.

Not much of it, however, has been good, as residents living near the proposed site, just west of the Harrison County line, have been given few details, leading to speculation and questions that mostly have gone unanswered.

Last week, about 70 people attended an informal meeting at the Blue River Café in Milltown to discuss the facility. Unfortunately, since neither Terrance Naulty nor Larry Ott, the two local partners of developer Liberty Green Renewables LLC, have provided many details about the facility — including the exact process by which woody biomass will be turned into energy; how much emissions will the process create; what effect, if any, there will be on Blue River; and the entry routes of tractor-trailer semis that will visit the plant daily — most attending expressed doubts, or at least serious concerns, about the plant.

Naulty, in an article in the Clarion News last week, said he is aware of some of the concerns and wants to assure people the plant, which would occupy five to seven acres, would be safe. He noted the facility will need to attain various permits, which will be available for public view.

Naulty added the company "would like the input of neighboring residents" and wants "to be a good corporate citizen," but defended the decision to release few details by noting competition from similar companies. However, he invited anyone with questions to call him.

Unfortunately, the phone number given in the article didn't work, leaving residents who tried to call frustrated. That wasn't Naulty's fault, as he didn't give a specific number, and the number listed in the article was from his business card and obviously outdated.

Naulty and Ott, as well as the Crawford County commissioners who welcomed the plant and the high-paying jobs it is to create at their December meeting, should have met with the community to address concerns and answer questions. Perhaps having done so would have kept public opinion positive.

As of Monday morning, an online poll at www.clarionnews.net found that 70 respondents do not believe the plant will be good for Crawford County, while only 14 believe it would be an asset.

It's not too late, however, to change that perception. A number of residents plan to attend tomorrow (Thurs-day) night's Crawford County Board of Commissioners' meeting at 6:30 at the Crawford County Judicial Complex at English. No doubt several Harrison County residents also will be in attendance considering the proposed site is less than a 30-second drive from the county line.

The commissioners and especially Naulty and Ott should take advantage of the opportunity to speak directly and in detail to the public so that questions can be answered and possible baseless concerns can be alleviated.

Naulty said the company wants the input of neighboring residents; this is its chance. After all, community interaction is the key to being a good corporate citizen.

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Schuler Bauer
Barbara Shaw
Bennett and Bennett Insurance
Thursday
08 - 17 - 17
11:58
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