For Immediate Release
30 January 2007
Sierra Club calls for Public Review of All Environmental Impacts
Alex Sagady 517-332-6971
Rita Jack 517-484-2372
Sierra Club, allied organizations,
and citizens are calling for the state to perform comprehensive environmental
review of the Liberty Renewable Fuels proposed ethanol plant in
According to Rita Jack, Water Sentinel Project Director for the Sierra Club, because of the scope of the project and the range of issues, “the proposed issuance of the air discharge permit for Liberty Renewable Fuels (ethanol plant) is a Major State Decision”, that under Michigan law and the Michigan Constitution, requires a process of comprehensive environmental review of the consequences of pollution, impairment, and destruction of Michigan’s natural resources, the public’s trust placed on these natural resources, the consideration of reasonable alternatives to the proposed action, and an MDEQ final finding and determination as to these matters. These “consequences have not been subjected to an open public process of comprehensive review”, stated Jack.
In addition to the proposed air
discharge permit, environmental consultant Alex J. Sagady said the Liberty
Renewable Fuels’ proposed 121 million gallon capacity ethanol plant would
be one of the largest in the Midwest, using groundwater at a rate of 1200
gallons per minute from three on-site 12 inch wells drilled 400 feet deep
– a potential consumption of 630 million gallons per year. Of the
630 million gallons of groundwater, about 340 million gallons per year would be
lost from the
At yesterday’s hearing in
Remarkably, groundwater use could be lessened if an alternative means of energy dissipation was used, or a mix of alternate means were considered. Yet none of these reasonable alternatives have been considered by either Liberty Renewable Fuels or by the MDEQ, and it’s not been presented to the public. Additionally, the review process has so far neglected to properly characterize environmental impacts from the large amount of greenhouse gases, on the order of 500-600 thousand tons per year of carbon dioxide, an unknown amount of methane and ethane from fermentation processes.
As yet, Liberty Renewable Fuels has not applied for the water discharge permit that will also be required for their ethanol plant, yet documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission disclose plans to discharge cooling water to Brady Creek, part of the Bad River watershed. Cooling water usually contains toxic chemicals used to kill algae and other additives to maintain cooling-tower integrity during operations, so discharge of this water will need to be controlled through a water discharge permit.
Sagady described the previously undisclosed site plan during his public comments at yesterday’s hearing. The additional site plan indicates future doubling of all the process equipment and the production capability of the facility, and a likely of all environmental and community impacts. After the site plan was described, a representative from Liberty Renewable Fuels stated “if things are going well in two to three years, then we’ll expand.” No aspects of these plans had been revealed to the public or local officials, yet should be a major factor for consideration of the impact of the eventual plant configuration. In the 1980s, comprehensive review was performed by the Michigan Environmental Review Board. No process exists for this function today, yet it’s sorely needed.
Detailed comments on the Liberty
Renewable Fuels ethanol production facility proposed for