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Few attendees have yet to form opinion


January 20, 2010
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management meeting on the proposed biomass power plant held at the Crawford County 4-H Community Park last Wednesday brought out about 200 people, many of them connected to citizens groups Concerned Citizens of Crawford County and North Milltown Landowners Association, which oppose the plant's proposed location near Milltown and the Blue River.

However, some who showed up were not connected to any group; they came to hear both sides and get more information.

"I'm really not sure about the plant," Wayne Larimore of Marengo said. "But I came here to get more information. It's a heated issue in this area. But, according to what the IDEM folks are saying, it's pretty much a done deal. It's really unfortunate. A lot of good people are caught in the middle on this. I've read a little about the issue but haven't had much time to get involved."

Kenny Sturgeon drove from Eckerty to listen to what IDEM officials had to say.

"I'm not against the plant," Sturgeon said. "It could be a good thing, but only if they can prove to me that the plant won't pollute this community. And, so far, they haven't done that here.

"I'm really concerned about the Blue River. And I'm concerned about the mercury level in our lakes and rivers. I don't really see why anyone would want to focus on this kind of energy when there are better sources out there already that won't put out any pollution, like solar and wind energy. If we don't have enough wind here, go further north where they're already building wind farms and build more there. There's places in Indiana that get a lot of wind," he continued.

"But if this plant is going to pollute like other power plants, why should we want it here? I believe there needs to be more research. Indiana already has enough power plants that pollute, and, if they want to build another one, they should go to another state where they don't have many. And there's going to be pollution; the IDEM folks here even admit that. But they believe a certain amount is acceptable. I disagree. This plant will just add to what we already have — what's acceptable from lots of other sources — and it all adds up to a level that's certainly not acceptable. I think we have a lot to be concerned about here, unless they can prove differently."

The proposed power plant's location has caught the attention of some who live in another county but may be downwind from the project and receive even more of the pollution than Milltown residents.

"We've been canoeing on the Blue River for years," said Linda Witt, who lives off Indian Creek Road in Harrison County. "And we love to come to Marengo Cave. This is a beautiful area. But it could all be different in the next three or four years. It would be a shame to see it change.

"I actually came to get information to share with my neighbors because we live downwind from here. I'm really happy that so many people came out for this meeting tonight. This day and age, it's hard to trust entrepreneurs. It's really a shame that a company can come into a community like this, build a plant and start spewing out pollution," Witt continued.

"And, according to what I've heard here tonight, that's probably what will happen. And I just don't understand why the elected officials here don't take a stronger stand. This is their home," she said.

"I'd certainly like to see more jobs come to this county," Sturgeon added. "But what are we willing to pay for those jobs? We really need to lean toward sources of energy that won't hurt the environment. Eventually, when the oil is gone, we'll have to move that way anyway."

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