Pharos-Tribune

Columns

April 2, 2014

KITCHELL: Latest LMU move one step forward, two back

The ongoing saga of how Logansport officials will proceed with plans for future energy generation took a new turn last month when it was announced that natural gas generation is now being considered as a future primary source instead of refuse derived fuels — what we call trash.

While this announcement didn’t necessarily represent a 180-degree turn from the city’s fast and furious pursuit of a proposed pyrolysis plant last year, it was a major change of course and finally connected with the recommendation a Kansas City consulting firm produced for Logansport before the pyrolysis debate began over a year ago. Given the availability of natural gas and pipelines already in place in Cass County, the natural gas option would seem to be more viable than transporting an estimated 6,000 tons of trash a day to Logansport for more than two decades to fuel the next generating plant. Environmentally, there are opponents who have concerns about fracking, the process of generating increased natural gas from underground which has produced a methane controversy involving wells. Even if fracking is eventually limited or banned however, natural gas production will likely continue not only in the United States, but in Canada.

While that part of the Logansport Municipal Utilities story represents a step forward, there should be concern about two other parts of this story. One is that if city officials elect to pursue a natural gas generating plant, it will be several years before it will be built. The community could really use an economic boost this year, or at least in the next year. This is becoming problematic because as the latest unemployment statistics for Cass County and Indiana indicated last week, Cass County and the rest of the state as a whole are headed in different directions. Cass County’s unemployment rate was 6.8 percent — up .2 percent. Indiana’s rate fell .3 percent to 6.1 percent. Keep in mind that’s before the closing of Logansport’s Sears store which will put even more local workers in the unemployment line, and before summer seasonal employment traditionally reduces unemployment.

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