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Another NUMBY Neighborhood

Dateline Greenville, OH: Ohio’s largest ethanol plant, has abandoned plans to sequester 250,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year 3,000 feet beneath Darke County Ohio in the heartland of America.  The CO2 is a byproduct of the ethanol fermentation process and would have been compressed on site and pumped down into the saltwater-filled Mount Simon Sandstone formation. The $93 million project would have been mostly publicly funded, and  local opposition including U.S., state and local representatives doomed the project.

Greenville, Ohio

A spokesman for the ethanol plant’s owners said that he was “disappointed that some local citizens seemed to feel ethanol plant officials didn’t have the community’s best interests at heart“, but said that Battelle Corporation, the company charged with the sequestration had been unable to assure his company that no damage would occur. The spokesman said, “he hadn’t been assured to his satisfaction that any environmental contingencies, however remote, would be addressed.

According to a local citizen’s group, Citizens Against CO2 Sequestration:

We do NOT consider this to be “Green Technology” – it is an EXPERIMENT and WE are the Guinea Pigs! It is an experiment that risks our health, safety and environment – funded mostly by YOUR tax dollars – Let’s not leave this EXPERIMENT for future generations to clean up!

Opponents feared the impact on property values, seismic risk and groundwater contamination if the project went forward and formed the local “Not Under My Back Yard” group. Then last August:

Battelle announced August 19, 2009 that due to business considerations, Greenville, Ohio is no longer being considered as a possible location for a carbon sequestration demonstration as part of the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRCSP) Phase III program.

Similar opposition to carbon sequestration projects has occurred elsewhere, most notably in Holland and in California. Greenpeace and the Sierra Club have called carbon sequestration a “scam” perpetrated by energy companies to make their filthy coal and petroleum products appear to be more green. Most citizens are pretty much ambivalent about sequestration until they find that they will be sitting above a vast reservoir of toxic gas and that the industry can give them no assurances that it will never catastrophically leak into the atmosphere or into groundwater supplies and that their tax and energy bills will go up to pay for the experimental process.

The process of sequestration requires 30-40% more energy to be produced just to handle the compressing, pumping and storing of the dangerous gas. Why would energy companies not be in favor of a process that requires them to produce more dirty energy? Especially if taxpayers will pay for the cost of sequestration and their exorbitant profits can continue to rise? Carbon sequestration has never been proven to work at anywhere near the scale that the country will need in the next few decades. Rather than trying to spend a $100 million to prove an already failed technology, we need to be moving toward proven methods of producing low pollution, sustainable forms of energy.

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