Friday, February 24, 2012

U.S. EPA forces Jackson to scale back trash-to-gas plant

The dueling press releases started flying yesterday afternoon. By evening, the news about Cleveland's proposed trash-to-gas plant became clear:

The U.S. EPA, tipped off by Dennis Kucinich, says Mayor Frank Jackson has to scale back his proposed gasification plant. It has about 20 more questions for the city and state to answer before the plant can get a federal permit.

The Jackson Administration knew the EPA's rejection was coming, and they already have a scaled-back plan. But the plant's critics, including Kucinich and city councilman Brian Cummins, still want to kill it.

That's my four-sentence summary of yesterday's events. If you, brave reader, want to dig deeper, here's Kucinich's press release with his interpretation of the letter, Jackson's press release about making the plant smaller so it'll pollute less, and Cummins' long list of problems the opponents still have with the plant.

Most important, here's the U.S. EPA letter (pdf) that laid down the law. Basically, it says the plant was going to be too big and could generate too many nitrogen oxides. Also, the feds are listening to the critics' environmental justice concerns, and they have a 3-page list of questions about the project.

Meanwhile, the Plain Dealer reports that the city's trying to cut loose Peter Tien, the controversial consultant who got the city interested in Japanese gasification plants and whom Scene made to look really bad in December.

Is this thing ever going to get built? Or will Jackson suffer a major setback in his efforts to reduce the city's reliance on coal plants and landfills, because too many Clevelanders think the trash-to-gas plant isn't environmentally friendly at all? Stay tuned.

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