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Heartland gets air permit

Fri, Jul 25th, 2003
Posted in Features

Fran Sauer (front) and Cari Watson (back) of Preston joined a bus load of citizens attending the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s hearing on Heartland on Tuesday. Photo by John Torgrimson

In a 6-2 vote on Tuesday, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Citizen’s Board approved an air permit for Heartland Energy & Recycling, LLC to operate a tire-burning plant in Preston. The board also decided that a contested case hearing, an arbitration hearing before an administrative law judge, was not necessary.

The Heartland plant will consume an estimated 10,000,000 tires annually, converting the tire-derived fuel into electricity which will be sold on the grid. The plant will be capable of generating 20 MW of electricity annually.

The Citizen’s Board granted first stage permitting, which allows for the construction and operation of the facility. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has 45 days to review the permit before final permitting can take place.

The MPCA received 52 letters of comment, both in support and opposition to the project. There were also four requests for a contested case hearing.

In their report to the Citizen’s Board, MPCA staff state that they have “responded to each of the issues raised by those who oppose the project...and concluded that the proposed permit conditions were adequate to protect human health and the environment.”

A bus load of area citizens attended the Citizen’s Board meeting to testify against the air permit.

The only remaining obstacle facing Heartland is a lawsuit filed by the Southeastern Minnesotans for Environmental Protection (SEMEP) against the MPCA, challenging their decision not to require an Environmental Impact Statement for the plant. The group argues that the impact the tire-burning plant will have in terms of air and water pollution, health problems, property values and the tourism economy have not been fully assessed.

Heartland, which is working with a Dallas, Texas firm to prepare taxable revenue bonds for sale to investors, has intervened in the lawsuit on the side of the MPCA.

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