Last February, a spokesman from HIRONS Public Relations, a representative of the Jasper Clean Energy Project told Eyewitness News that biofuels had been endorsed by medical journals like the Sierra Club and Worldwatch.
The Indiana Chapter of the Sierra Club has contacted Eyewitness News to deny that claim. According to spokeswoman, Jodi Perras:
- The Sierra Club is not a medical journal but instead a nationwide environmental organization with more than 7,000 members in the state of Indiana.
- The Sierra Club has not endorsed the proposed source of fuel for the Jasper Clean Energy Project.
- Based on their review of the very "sketchy" information now available, the Sierra Club seriously doubts that the project will ever prove to be either economically viable or environmentally sustainable.
- The Sierra Club will review applications for the required environmental permits with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) once they are filed. The Sierra Club will review the city of Jasper's applications for compliance and will make another comment at that time.
Eyewitness News has reached out to HIRONS, the public relations firm hired by the Jasper Clean Energy Project for comment. We have yet to receive a statement from the firm.
Jasper, IN. - A five year old debate about a potential new energy source is re-kindled in Jasper. The issue has come to light after Jasper's Mayor appeared on a statewide television program touting the benefits of the plan. In 2011 city officials voted to move forward with a plan to convert the city's old coal fired power plant to burn Miscanthus, commonly known as elephant grass. A civil suit filed that same year was dismissed this month.Plaintiffs filed the suit claiming the city of Jasper violated the Open Meetings Law.
*The plaintiffs who are part of the Healthy Dubois County, Inc. claimed the plant would damage air quality in Dubois County.
Jasper pediatrician, Dr. Norma Schue Kreilein is a long time opponent to the plan.
"There's a deliberate attempt to marginalize those who want to speak up!", she said.
Dr. Kreilein says city officials are ignoring her concerns and the concerns of others like her. She says there's nothing clean about the new process or the new plant which she says could emit poisonous gas.
"What looks like a little is alot if you're talking about an extremely hazardous poison", she added.
A public relations spokesman for the project, HIRONS, Inc. hired by the Jasper Utility Service Board says the city will be using a cleaner source of fuel that has been endorsed by medical journals like Sierra Club and Worldwatch.
"The unknown is always a little scary", says Utility Manager, Wayne Schuetter.
Schuetter says Jasper has been on the cutting edge when it comes to technology and this venture would be no different. He says Dr. Kreilein is exaggerating any potential dangers and the new plant is environmentally friendly -- and will provide new jobs.
"We're saying look we think it's a good process. We think we vetted it well. We've listened to the concerns. We've worked in as many things into the lease to counter those concerns" he added.
Concerns that Dr. Kreilein says are still widely ignored in the town.
She says, "this would not happen in Jasper unless there was a culture of looking the other way".
Jasper utility officials say plans for the plant are just that. They're awaiting buyers for the energy source and permits to clear for the project to go forward. City officials tell Eyewitness News there is a lease in place in their partnership with management company, Twisted Oaks that would allow them to monitor biomass used at the plant. **They say the company would have to comply with every stipulation within the lease including EPA safety regulations.
*See Concerns of Healthy Dubois County Here
**See Jasper Clean Energy Lease Here
Report by Fadia Patterson
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