Scott Co. residents express concerns about biomass plant


by Adam Walser

Posted on November 11, 2009 at 12:54 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 11 at 12:54 AM

A proposed bio-mass fuel plant in Scottsburg could bring more jobs and more tax revenues to a town hit hard by a struggling economy.

But tonight more than a hundred local residents turned out to express concerns about the venture.

The Scottsburg City Council recently approved plans for a bio-mass incenerator to be built on a 40-acre site just a couple of miles from the town square.

But some residents have concerns about what the plant could mean to their health. and they're hoping to stop the project before it gets built.

Like many small Midwestern towns, Scottsburg has fallen on hard times.

"We've had six plants to close in the last couple of years. we've lost an automobile dealership" said Mayor Bill Graham. "Our unemployment rate is about 12.8 percent."

So when the town was approached by a company named Liberty Green about building a $150 Million facility in a vacant field which would employ dozens of local residents... The city supported it.

Especially since the company promised to produce clean energy by burning woodchips in an incenerator.

"We are looking at other things we can do for clean energy and energy conservation. It's the new economy," said Graham.

But plenty of town residents aren't so excited...Jeff Cox says the plant will result in lead, mercury and other toxins being released into the air.

"Once this thing goes in, there will be no getting rid of it. we'll be breathing this stuff in day and night forever.," said Cox.

Cox put flyers in thousands of mailboxes for a meeting he helped organize tonight.

Dr. Bill Sammons, who has worked with groups in 14 states to oppose bio-mass plants, was the guest speaker

"It is being sold to people as clean energy. It's not clean. the emissions are higher than coal," said Sammons.

Sammons says the only thing green about bio-mass plants is the huge amount of money the Energy Department provides companies which build them in the form of economic incentives.

"In this case, it will be closer to $50-Million , right off the bat," said Sammons.

Sammons has also been working with opponents of a similar plant proposed in Milltown , IN by the same company.

At the meeting residents signed petitions and were told to contact their local and congressional leaders.

"Everybody's got their own opinion," said Mayor Graham. "That's what's great about this country."