Eyota ethanol plant decision on hold - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Fanna Haile-Selassie

Eyota ethanol plant decision on hold

ST. PAUL, MN (FOX 47) -- Earlier Tuesday night, we brought you the latest on the Eyota ethanol plant battle playing out in Saint Paul. The decision of whether the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's citizens board will give the city of Eyota an environmental impact statement was postponed.

But many residents who want to have an environmental impact statement are cheering Tuesday night. It seems frustrated residents and the lack of data may buy them some time. Several members of the MPCA's citizens board said they needed more data to make a decision. And that statement means good news for those worried about possible environmental effects of an ethanol plant.

From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., members of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's citizens board heard testimony from MinnErgy, who wants to build a Ethanol plant in Eyota. They also heard from residents who are worried about the plant's environmental and health effects.

"We want to protect our resources."

Board members also heard from citizens who say 'build the plant; no more stalling'.

"I think MPCA did their job."

According to who you talk to, not everyone believes the MPCA's data is accurate. In fact, many concerned residents and groups like the Trout Association presented their own data, which they say the results are very different.

"This is the board that administers the PCA. They're responsible for the staff, responsible for all the final decisions," says the President of the Minnesota Trout Association, Jeffery Broberg. "So, it comes down to the commissioner and the staff gives their best report, and everybody else does too. And it's up to these guys to make the final decision."

The decision? A motion to postpone their decision until their next meeting to give board members enough time to think about what they heard. But the second part of the motion was key.

"I personally believe there is enough concern about the data that we need to have more information in order to make an informed decision," exclaims Daniel Foley, a member of the citizens board.

The board decided to vote next month on requiring MinnErgy to do a limited scoped form of the Environmental Impact Statement to get more data. The decision left many Eyota residents elated, but not so much for MinnErgy.

Ron Scherbring with MinnErgy said, "We're surprised. Nonetheless, MinnErgy is committed to the process and look forward to understanding what the motion entails."

The board will meet again Tuesday, November 25th, and will finish hearing testimony and make their decision. The board will most likely agree to a limited scoped EIS since they do not need all the data the report would bring.

But board member Daniel Foley says a 30-day water pump test will most likely be done, and that's the longest test of that nature the MPCA has ever required. A full EIS review costs about $1 million and takes about a year to complete.

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