The cost of NIMBYism

While SE Mn says “Not In My Back Yard,” the state loses jobs, and encourages far greater environmental destruction


A proposed ethanol plant in Eyota is one of five stalled energy projects in Minnesota that made a list of stalled projects around the nation in the U-S Chamber of Commerce’s “Project No Project” initiative.


The first-of-its-kind report says the stalled projects in Minnesota are costing the state’s economy 12.8 billion dollars in GDP at 21-thousand jobs a year that could be created during the construction phases of these projects alone.


Also making the list of stalled projects in Minnesota is a wind turbine project in Goodhue County three miles west of Kenyon.


The MinnErgy plant in Eyota would process 53-thousand bushels of corn a day into ethanol. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency determined in 2008 the plant had no potential for significant environmental effects and did not need an environmental impact statement.


An Olmsted county citizens group appealed the MPCA’s decision to the Minnesota Court of Appeals last September.


A final decision is still pending.


The MinnErgy project is being proposed by a private group that includes several Winonans.


Our Take:
We are grateful to the National Chamber of Commerce for bringing this perspective to the discussion of renewable energy production. Opponents need to consider how many jobs are in the balance. In the end, the ability of communities (and states) to maintain a high level of environmental protection, as Minnesota does, depends on economic sustainability. The state’s legacy fund is generated by sales taxes. Sales taxes are generated by people with jobs, who can afford to spend on the goods being taxed.


We understand that concern of citizens in southeastern Minnesota about a new commercial development that uses a large amount of water.


The question citizens of the area have to ask themselves is whether this ethanol project really presents the potential for a detrimental change to the environment. Though it would use about three to four gallons of water for every gallon of ethanol produced, or about 200 million gallons of water per year, the water resource in southeastern Minnesota is truly vast, and, as the environmental assessment has pointed out, the ethanol plant will not make a dent in the aquifer or the flow of water into the regions treasured trout streams.


Perhaps the opponents here have fallen for the entire suite of misinformation that plays continuously these days, thanks to the strange cooperation of Big Oil, Big Food and environmental scare groups.


Agriculture in Minnesota represents a harmonious and sustainable use of the state’s natural resources, to produce commodities needed by everyone–animal feed–the basis for the protein we consume every day: milk, cheese, eggs, meat and poultry. Ethanol takes the starch out of grain to create fuel and then passes the protein and oil in the kernels on to the feedlots and poultry barns.


Farmers are working every day to improve their conservation measures and reduce their environmental impact–the good prices for farm products achieved in part through ethanol production allow farmers to pay for things like buffer strips and rock tile inlets (that zero out sediment transport in farmland drainage systems).


Finally, one has to remember that the alternative to ethanol is using more oil, plain and simple. And that oil can come from the Gulf of Mexico or the tar sands of Canada. We urge opponents of the Eyota ethanol plant to look at these images of the tar sands strip mines. We can’t claim that a Minnesota ethanol plant can end this environmental disaster unfolding to our north, but at least we don’t have to contribute to it.


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