Dan Meyer, spokesman for the group,
opened the meeting, saying, "This train is coming down the tracks.
We need to be ready. We need to keep going, keep motivated and state
A wide variety of
issues related to the proposed ethanol plant were openly discussed,
sharing the information that had been collected since the last
meeting. Statements were made by a variety of people from the
audience as well as the organizers.
Meyer began with a list of facts and
observations, stating that Illini Bio-Energy has collected $25.2
million to date, short of its $40 million goal. "They will probably
open it up as an LLC," he stated, a method they believe Illini
Bio-Energy will use to bring in the rest of the needed funds from
outside sources, which will compromise the promises made to the
Meyer stated that, among other
promises made to the community, Illini Bio-Energy was now promising
an increase of only 5 cents a bushel to area farmers, down from the
previous 10 cents. "Their story changes at every turn," he said.
The CCLC has mounted a petition
drive in Logan County to collect the signatures needed to support
their opposition. To date they have collected about 300 signatures.
A recent petition drive at the Lincoln Wal-Mart last week netted
only 15 signatures in a three-hour period. CCLC workers at that
location were disappointed by the lack of interest and concern on
the part of Lincoln citizens. They said that many Lincoln citizens
appeared too busy to take an interest in preventing the ethanol
plant from being built on the proposed location.
Comments were made about a recently
televised interview on CITV Channel 5 with Brian Wrage, a spokesman
and board member of Illini Bio-Energy. They said that Wrage quoted
Dan Fulscher, director of Logan County ESDA, as saying in the
interview that ESDA "has no problems with the facility or the
location." When asked about Wrage's statement, Fulscher denied
stating it exactly that way. They said that Fulscher will appear on
CITV Channel 5 to state the facts, an interview which is not yet
Meyer repeatedly stated that Illini
Bio-Energy seemed to go back and forth on their facts.
Meyer and the founders turned the
meeting to the homeland security issue, presenting that the ethanol
plant would be a great risk to the community because of the
chemicals stored and produced there. They were greatly concerned
that neither the EPA nor ESDA would be in charge of determining if
there should be a mandatory evacuation due to a threat or an
accident. They were told that Lincoln Rural Fire Department will be
determining if an evacuation should be in effect.
Members of the CCLC expressed some
relief that the water authority had passed a measure to protect the
area water supply. If the water table fell below a certain
predetermined level, the water authority would stop Illini
Bio-Energy from pulling water from the Mahomet aquifer. This
measure, they said, would force Illini Bio to drill test wells and
test the ability of the aquifer to provide the amounts of water
necessary to run the plant over a period of time. They will have to
get specific permission to pump after that test, based on the
The CCLC expressed dismay over the
rules that prevent the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency from
acting on their behalf to prevent the plant from locating at the
proposed site. The Illinois EPA, they said, is not allowed to
consider "quality of life" issues in issuing permits. This means
that the IEPA cannot prevent a permit from being issued even if the
proposed facility changes the air, noise, water, safety or any other
environmental factor in a community, as long as those changes are
within their predetermined guidelines.
"The Illinois EPA will not help us,"
an audience member said. Nor will the Illinois EPA continuously
monitor the plant. IEPA will act only if there is a complaint.
Regular monitoring happens only if airborne emissions exceed 100
tons, a figure Illini Bio has been careful to stay below in their
presentations and their prospectus.
It was pointed out at the meeting
that the Illinois EPA could prevent the issuing of permits if there
are geological faults in the area. The question was raised at the
meeting if the existing coal mines could be considered geologic
The CCLC has retained attorney Fred
Roth to do the legal work necessary to prevent the ethanol plant
from locating in their front yards. Roth is currently drafting of a
letter of protest on the proposed zoning change of that property.
The letter should have signatures of people with adjoining
properties. This letter, explained Roth, will be effective
throughout the process. Meyer said Roth will draw the information
right out of Illini Bio's prospectus, "information scary enough to
scare the hair right off your head." After the letter is finished
and signatures are applied, the letter will be submitted to County
Clerk Sally Litterly.
The topic then turned to the last
county board meeting, at which Logan County State's Attorney Tim
Huyett stated that he can give an opinion on some issues, but the
Logan County Board can do what they please. His legal authority can
act only after the fact to present a legal challenge to their
decisions. It was remarked that anybody on the county board with
grain to market is in conflict of interest.
[to top of second column in this article]
One of the major concerns that started
the CCLC on their quest to prevent the ethanol plant from locating
at that site was their fear that the ethanol plant would make their
property values fall. At this meeting it was discussed that Sarah
Wilcox of Illini Bio had recently stated that realtors in a
Wisconsin town where an ethanol plant had been built said the plant
had not caused property values to fall and that the ethanol plant
was in fact very good for business.
A member of the CCLC audience said
that anything which causes real estate to turn is good for a real
estate firm's business. Meyer said that a 125-foot stack with
emissions will certainly affect the value of homes in that area and
would cause people to move away.
At the meeting the CCLC presented
what was perhaps their most powerful argument against locating the
plant at the proposed site. They talked about an ethanol plant
located in Galena that came to town and proposed exactly the same
things that Illini Bio is promising: You won't see us, or smell us
or hear us. The residents of Galena allowed the ethanol plant to be
built based on those promises. That ethanol company skimped on the
construction of that plant, eliminating the most important part, the
thermal oxidizer. That plant produced an incredible odor from the
fermenting grain and was very noisy.
The community took them to federal
court, and the court ordered them to install the $2 million thermal
oxidizing equipment. Members of that community have testified that
even after adding that equipment, they can still smell it and hear
it. Members of the audience at the CCLC meeting testified that the
odor problem comes not in processing but in moving the processed
components from the plant.
The CCLC believes that Illini Bio is
understating most of their environmental facts just to get the plant
built. Brian Wrage of Illini Bio-Energy stated at previous meetings
that there will be 100 trucks a day delivering materials to and from
the plant. He has compared that number to the trucks coming and
going from Cutler-Hammer each day. The CCLC questioned guards at
Cutler-Hammer, who have stated that there are only 50-55 trucks per
day at that facility.
In addition to the grain traffic to
and from the ethanol plant, Illini Bio is now stating that all the
coal will come in by truck and that the percentages of coal are
changed to 80 percent local and 20 percent Western. It was
previously stated that Illini Bio would ship the coal via rail. The
CCLC board does not think that Illini Bio is including these coal
trucks in their 100-truck-per-day estimate. In addition to emissions
from the plant, the community should consider the emissions and
safety concerns from this amount of semitrailer traffic.
A member of the audience said that
he checked with officials at Turris Coal to see if there was an
adequate coal supply for the plant. Turris said their supply would
last at least through the year 2024.
Cozette Reichle, a neighbor in
Epperson Addition, recommended that members of the CCLC board make
their own appearance on CITV Channel 5 to convince the people in
town that Illini Bio won't be a good neighbor. Various members of
the audience stated that people in town don't seem to understand the
issues and misunderstand what the ethanol plant will bring to the
area in jobs. The reality, Meyer stated, is that the plant will
bring eight management jobs earning good money, and the rest will be
$8-$10 per hour.
Further comments were made by the
audience that, according to the prospectus, there won't be any
construction jobs for Logan County residents in the building of the
plant. Fagan, the construction company, will bring everything in,
including the building materials, from their own outside sources.
County board member Pat O'Neill
stated that Fagan would be using nonunion workers to build the
plant, claiming that nonunion workers would increase the danger of
safety issues at the plant.
As the meeting came to an end, Meyer
summarized that at $96 million, this will be the most expensive
ethanol plant ever built. All they ask is that this plant be built
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