The Indiana Department of Environmental Management held an air quality permit public hearing, in regards to Riverview Energy’s coal to diesel refinery at the auditorium of Heritage Hills High School Wednesday night.
There was standing room only in the packed house, filled with local residents opposed to the refinery and local union workers in support of it. All carrying signs and matching apparel to show the support or opposition.
At the core of the of the discussion was the proposed $2.5 Billion dollar plant that will sit within the city limits of Dale.
Opinions were passionately shared, with one speaker noting that the issue has become even more divisive than the 2016 election. For those who stand against the plant the issue is about public health.
The refinery will stand one mile away from an Elementary school and two nursing homes.
According to a 2016 report by the Environmental Protection Agency, Indiana ranks 6th in most toxic states in the US, with Spencer County ranking 23rd among the most toxic counties in the entire country.
To add fuel the fire IDEM use a baseline monitor in South Bend to check pollution levels for the permit for this refinery in Spencer County. In addition there were those who felt that to have such a facility in Dale will have negative impact on quality of life beyond just health.
For those in support, this refinery is seen as a way to improve the economy of Spencer County. An opportunity for more jobs, one’s that offer far more than minimum wage.
The Riverview Refinery, if built, would bring 225 jobs, with an additional 2,000 temporary construction jobs to build it. It is seen as a big step in economic growth.
This line of reasoning was questioned by some.
Spencer County’s unemployment rate was only 3.3 percent in October. And currently there are dozens of jobs vacant for area employers, including those in surrounding counties, that would qualify has high paying jobs. For some the issue of employment is more about convincing people to move to the area for jobs. And it was questioned whether this refinery would even be built, even the permit is approved. The suggestion that the county doesn’t need the jobs received some scoffs from the crowd.
No decision was made Wednesday night, as this was just a chance for the public to make comments and ask questions.
If you would like to make a comment or express your views to IDEM you still have time to send a written comment, either by email or mail.
You can send email comments to Doug Logan at dlogan@idem.IN.gov. Or mail it to 100 North Senate Avenue, MC 61-53 IGCN 1003 Indianapolis, IN 46204.
The mail has to be postmarked by December 10th.