NIMBYs Slow Ethanol Industry

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

The New York Times reports that local residents' "Not In My Back Yard" (NIMBY) attitude towards ethanol plant construction is slowing the industry's once inexorable expansion into the American heartland. "In Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and even Iowa, the nation’s largest corn and ethanol producer, this next-generation fuel finds itself facing the oldest of hurdles: opposition from residents who love the idea of an ethanol distillery so long as it is someplace else." The article cites a grass roots campaign in Sparta (uh-oh) Wisconsin, where locals worry about a proposed plant's aesthetics (it would mar golfers' views), tainted milk and smell ("like beer but with a metal smell mixed in"). Plant opponents have printed T-shirts reading “Good idea. Bad location.” Citing the economic benefits of ethanol plants, Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, had little time for such sentiment. "“There are some people who would rather see their town dry up and blow away than change the status quo." Yes, well, as the article points out, the bloom is off the ethanol industry rose. Despite– or because of– federal subsidies that would make a sugar grower smile (even more than usual), an ethanol glut has driven down prices. And the chattering classes are waking-up to the effects of ethanol production on water and food supplies. In other words, the battle lines are drawn.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Luther Luther on Nov 13, 2007

    I love the smell of U235 in the morning.

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Nov 13, 2007

    Has anyone made a calculation to determine if we actually need anymore ethanol plants? Besides, how far from the corn fields can you take the ingredients to the plant before you are no longer saving energy or CO2? Same for the hard to transport ethanol itself? Having said all that, we REALLY need to find a cure for NIMBYism. Either we figure out how to pay people enough to be fair, or we streamline the lawsuits, or we figure out a way to tax property that is nowhere near necessary infrastructure, or something. Anything.

  • Stuntnun Stuntnun on Nov 13, 2007

    landcrusher, they have and its awe full, i want to say a ratio of 8:6 with an acre of corn and that doesnt factor in the environmental damage of all the fertilizers(cancer causing) and runoff into rivers lakes and our drinking water,not to mention you get worse mpg and the cost of every thing goes up because of it.we had a plant in st.paul and it did stink ,was always in the news because people living by it couldn't stand it,the epa fined them a couple times also.

  • Robert Schwartz Robert Schwartz on Nov 13, 2007

    Luther: It smells like victory.