Tuesday, August 11, 2009

City of Greenville, Ohio Opposed to Large-scale CO2 Sequestration Project - City Officials Put On the Spot

Greenville Officials Put on The Spot at Tuesday Council Meeting

From WTGR Radio in Greenville, OH (Link to the story is here)

“I have been against this project from the beginning. There are a thousand other options available to reduce CO2 emissions.”

Those were the words of Greenville Councilman John Baumgartner at Tuesday’s council meeting as council and other city officials were challenged to give their personal opinions of the potential carbon sequestration project at the ethanol plant in Greenville. One by one, every official in the room did just that during the public hearing portion of the meeting as two Greenville citizens, Lynn Bliss and Enid Goubeax, put officials on the spot in front of a packed council room, filled with members of the Citizens Against Carbon Sequestration. Though neither Bliss or Goubeaux were directly representing the group on Tuesday, they shared the same sentiment that the city’s recent official press release did not go far enough in addressing the controversial issue. Those present also took issue with a particular phrase in the press release that they felt was inaccurate. That statement indicated that there was a “rift in the community” over the project.

“We want to show that there is no rift in the community, but there may be a rift between the community and its’ government. The community, though, has been untied by this issue”, stated Bliss.

Goubeaux added that she had lived in the community since 1961 and had never seen area residents as untied as they are currently in their opposition to this potential project. What Goubeaux said next, however, is what began perhaps the lengthiest public hearing portion of a council meeting in many years…

“We are going to be calling each of you in the next few days to ask you to express your personal view (on this project)”, said Goubeaux, “ A no comment will be interpreted as a vote of support.”

Though reactions to the aggressive tactic varied by official, all present opted not to wait for the phone call and answered directly on Tuesday evening.

All the statements indicated that city officials are against the project for many of the same reasons that residents have expressed. Councilman Leon Rogers stated, “I am more against it the more that I learn about it.” Referring to the fact that the federal government may play a role in the final decision he said, “If it will be anywhere, it should be under Washington D.C.”

That was one of many statements that drew applause from attendees. However, much of the discussion during the evening was heated as officials stated they took offense to the indication that they had not researched the issues. Rogers asked residents yesterday not to mistake silence for indifference, saying, “We have been doing what you were doing, gathering information. ”

During dialogue between Anne Vehry, a founder of The Citizens Against Carbon Sequestration and City Law Director Jeff Amick, Amick expressed what other officials had already indicated- that the city may be powerless to stop the project. However, when asked what chance he thought there was of The Andersons moving forward with the project, he guessed it was less than 20%, “I can tell you, they don’t have any intention of the project going thru at this time. But until there is an actual project to stop, we can’t do anything. If we initiate legislation, we will have the burden of proof that the project is a public nuisance. “

Amick said that might be difficult to prove and would certainly be expensive. He added, as other officials did on Tuesday, that The Anderson’s was the most ethical and honest company with which he had ever done business. One common theme did emerge from the statements, and it was one that many did not want to hear. Most officials present, who have been researching the project for over a year, stated they thought carbon sequestration was likely inevitable even if the drilling was stopped here in Greenville.

“We are on the Mount Simon Sandstone. It covers numerous states and I believe that whether CO2 is pumped in at the Andersons in a test program or whether it’s pumped in the ground in Michigan or Indiana, the City of Greenville is going to be on top of sequestered CO2”, explained Greenville Safety/Service Director John Schmidt, “I just don’t want the test wells to be here”.