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Crawford resident questions proposed biomass plant

English, Ind.

Today, if you want to start a business of dubious contribution to your neighbors, and not get them up in arms, or pitchforks, or flaming torches, you make sure to use words like, "eco," "green" or "bio" in the business name. If you really want to make an impression, you'll add something patriotic like, "American," "liberty" or "freedom."

That said, Liberty Green Renewables LLC, a biomass-to-electricity facility, has come to town to presumably make and spread around some money. But before we start celebrating the appearance of the two-story Trojan horse popping up in Milltown, maybe we should take a little peek inside.

What does it have to offer us? And what do we get in return? Jobs are a biggie. How many jobs? What are the average required skill levels? How many will likely be brought in as professionals or previous company employees? What is the average pay rate? How many actual Crawford Countians are going to get these jobs? I want numbers.

In return for this limited number of jobs, we should first expect about 250,000 tons of burnable material to be incinerated annually. Statistics, provided by www.energyjustice.net, show that after the insufficient amount of tree tops and various other local wood bi-products are depleted, intensive logging follows. This is then followed by construction waste, furniture factory waste and even medical waste, in some instances. This means burning varnish, glues and chemically-treated woods. I'm trying not to think about the medical waste.

Also, future requests for permits to burn a wider variety of fuels are not out of the question. This will all be shipped in approximately 30 or so semi-trucks daily. Through the 66 and 64 light in Milltown. Yeah. Incineration will produce "acceptable" acceptable!?! (when properly monitored) levels of such goodies as sulfur dioxide, pyroxene, PCBs, chlorine, mercury, dioxin, etc. Dioxin? Does anyone remember "Love Canal"?

The slurry ponds, to handle further wastes, will be developed on land riddled with many impressive sink holes in an area that sometimes gets flooding rains and within about a thousand feet of Blue River, one of the few remaining "clean" rivers in America. Can't wait to eat a fish out of that river in about five years.

I could go on; these plants have a long and sad history (see Internet), but the point is, we love our home here and cherish our children. What are we leaving them in exchange for a limited number of jobs? When I go outside on a summer evening to enjoy the gazillion stars that only those of us fortunate enough to live far from the pollution of cities can see, I want to actually see them. I don't want my nose or eyes to burn, and I don't want my town to be another rural community to unravel because of an irresponsible form of progress.

Instead, I'd like to see us working together to find creative, resourceful and safe ways to develop this county in ways we would be proud to share with our descendants. Changes to safer, more efficient ways to achieve renewable energy will only come when enough people say "NO" often enough to the alternative.

Times are indeed rough and likely to get worse before they get better, but they will get better. Let's not sell the family heirlooms just yet. Our kids might want them.

Lyn Humphries
February 04, 2009

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    Crawford resident questions proposed biomass plant
    February 07, 2009 | 04:21 PM

    As a long time advocate I appreciate the efforts of the little guy to make the world a better place. You go girl!


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