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Biomass not right type of jobs locally

Milltown, Ind.

I am a concerned citizen of Crawford County. That term has come to signify being an opponent of Liberty Green Renewables' proposed construction of a biomass plant in Milltown. As a resident of this county, I am no exception.

We have heard for months about the potential negative environmental impact this plant would have on the quality of our air and water as well as the health of our citizens in this county. Environmental and health impact studies have been conducted around the country that seem to support these conclusions. Many residents feel the findings alone are more than sufficient to oppose its construction.

I would like to offer another compelling argument to oppose having the biomass plant built.

We live in a pristine environment with natural beauty, clean rivers, abundant forests and clean underground water. These qualities are fast becoming things of the past in our nation because of ever-increasing polluting activities.

People live and move into communities like Crawford County specifically BECAUSE of these features. They prefer non-industrial areas to live and appreciate the aesthetic beauty of this region. Those from other counties and states visit here because of the unique combination of tourism sites to visit.

Few people recognize that anyone who visits or moves into this area creates and helps maintain jobs. Visitors support the local economy by touring the area. I know many who have provided jobs to a variety of contractors and tradesmen because of new home construction and renovation projects. These folks are CREATING JOBS. And they all pay property taxes. And they all call local tradesmen when equipment in their homes fails.

What would happen to this stream of continuous income if our water became polluted, our air contributed to illness and our rivers were no longer suitable to fish? What would happen if people sold their homes to move out of the area because of health concerns? What would happen to our cave system if they were impacted environmentally and they had to close? The county would suffer significant revenue fallout, something it can ill afford.

Times have changed. We must think outside the box. Many more jobs will be created if we encourage tourism and promote Crawford County to those perhaps in the Louisville area who wish to live in a rural environment with beautiful hills, valleys and rivers. Retirees wishing to live away from cities could pour a lot of money into the local economy. But many people do not think of this perspective as a form of JOB CREATION.

The few jobs that LGR can bring to Crawford County don't compare to those that would be lost if we harm our environment, the very thing that brings people to this area to visit and live. It is imprudent to think that a few jobs — most of which would be highly specialized positions requiring out-of-state em-ployees — are justification to support construction of the biomass plant.

We don't have to create green spaces. We must protect those that already exist. Perhaps, instead of thinking that it is harmful NOT having industry here, we could recognize that projects like the biomass plant could destroy many if not all the potential jobs created through tourism and drawing people into the county who would either build or renovate property.

Why don't we work at getting high-speed Internet to all areas within Crawford County so that more entrepreneurial folks could live and bring non-polluting businesses to the area? Why must we think only in "industrial" terms when seeking avenues to create jobs?

If we insist on believing that a few jobs "solve" the economic challenges of this county without taking into consideration how many unseen and unrecognized jobs would be lost by having LGR build this plant, then we are short-sighted and ill-informed, indeed. Use the bountiful resources we already have and be more imaginative and visionary about job creation that won't ultimately cause harm on many different levels to our citizens.

Maxine Brightwell
February 03, 2010

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