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June 30, 2013

Debate over power plant continues

More than 150 turn out for panel

Those on both sides of Logansport’s pursuit of developing an electricity plant powered by refuse-derived fuel showed they are continuing to work toward their goals at a panel discussion last week hosted by those skeptical of the project.

Addressing more than 150 attendees at the McHale Performing Arts Center Wednesday night were Morton Marcus, retired director of the Indiana Business Research Center; Bradley Angel, executive director of San Francisco-based Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice; and Mike Ewall, founder and director of Philadelphia-based Energy Justice Network. The event was sponsored by a local group called the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy, or CARE.

The panelists addressed a proposal by Pyrolyzer LLC, which the city is currently negotiating with to develop an electricity plant powered by refuse-derived fuel.

The panelists contested the company’s and the city-hired consultants’ claims that the plant’s process of pyrolysis doesn’t fall under incineration or combustion. In his presentation, Ewall cited the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s definition of municipal waste combustor, which includes pyrolysis, in its list of examples.

The panelists also pointed to the failures of similar projects in the past and suggested citizens to urge elected officials to continue the project with great caution.

“Most of the time, being cautious works very well,” Marcus said during his presentation. “This is something new that isn’t worth trying ... the Wright brothers didn’t start with a 747.”

Michael Berkshire, a Logansport resident, attended the discussion.

“I’ve heard from the city and Pyrolyzer. Now I’ve heard from the opposition. Now I’d like a third opinion,” he said, adding he thinks the engineering department at Purdue University should examine the project.

Logansport City Councilman Bob Bishop, who voted in favor of negotiating with Pyrolyzer, attended the event as well.

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