Local News

Va. ethanol plant debate could affect N.C.

Posted August 23, 2007
Updated April 30, 2008

— A heated debate in Virginia just north of the state border in Virginia could impact North Carolina.

A bioenergy company wants to build an ethanol plant in Mecklenburg County, but some are worried about pollution they say might end up in Kerr Lake.

Chase City has been a community divided – split over a proposed ethanol plant.

“If you ain’t got one, you don’t want one,” said Ed Hall, with the Association to Preserve Mecklenburg.

Osage Bio Energy is looking to build the plant on a 600-acre site just outside the town. County administrators said it will bring dozens of jobs to the area and a market for farmers to sell their corn and barley.

“People need to remember that we are an agrarian area,” said Joyce French, with Southside Planning District. “We are a farming area, and this is going to help the farmers.”

The Association to Preserve Mecklenburg said the plant won't mix with the agricultural community – or any community for that matter.

“Anybody who lives within two miles of an ethanol plant doesn’t have a very positive experience,” said Margaret Maass, with the association.

They are also concerned runoff from the plant might end up in a creek that leads into Kerr Lake.

“Kerr Lake goes into Carolina, too. So, they should be concerned,” Hall said.

Supporters of the plant say the naysayers aren't telling the truth.

“They’re trying to scare people with their tactics,” said Monty Hightower, with Concerned Citizens for Progress. “They’ve been sending flyers, putting large ads in the paper. We like to back up the facts.”

Both sides say the other needs to do more homework. The Osage Company will decide by fall whether Mecklenburg County is right for their plant. Then, local commissioners will decide on an issue that's already splitting the community.

The Osage Bio Energy company began operating in January but has not built an ethanol plant. The company president said Osage would emit low levels of pollutants by EPA standards.


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  • grumpyhermit Aug 24, 2007

    get energy from Solar.

    use batteries to store & release it.

    drink ethanol.

  • TheWB Aug 24, 2007

    Another problem is that prior to these new flex fuel vehicles which are the majority of vehicles out there, can not run on ethanol without expensive modifications. That is all just spilt milk (more expensive spilt milk now a days) now, so I think we need to start carefully working on making ethanol more feasible before rushing it to market. Then, one day we can tell foreign oil producers to kiss our cheeks goodbye without all of the heart ache connected with a sudden, feeble attempt to make a buck and to heck with the consequences.

  • TheWB Aug 24, 2007

    Oil independence and renewable fuel sources are both noble and advantageous ideas, they are however, not without consequence as evident by a trip to the grocery store. The problem is that this movement came on us suddenly and the resulting rush to bring it to market is troublesome. We should have begun this process in the 70's during the big gas crunch in a methodical way so that it would be feasible about now. Had we started back then, farmers could have slowly switched crops and opened additional land to accommodate the growing market in order which would have lessened the impact of higher grain prices. A long range approach would also have given planners time to work out the other problems associated with the switch, like transportation and distribution both currently limited to tankers because the can't be piped long distances because of water build up in pipes will ruin the ethanol. The short shelf life, for the same reason, is another unresolved drawback. Another problem is that

  • dohicky Aug 24, 2007

    The company president said Osage would emit low levels of pollutants by EPA standards. That is funny since you hear of all kinds of problems people have from where they live and work. Don't think we can depend on the EPA's standards to guarantee anything.

  • hp277 Aug 24, 2007

    It's dumb to make fuel from corn, which just jacks up the price of food (milk, cheese, beef, chicken, pork) for everyone. Ethanol is not the answer.

  • The Fox Aug 24, 2007

    Some folks just can't stand prosperity.

  • sentinel94m Aug 24, 2007

    Let's burn methane like they did in "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome". We have plenty of pig-manure around here for that.

  • gator nation gal Aug 24, 2007

    I happened to be in north western Iowa this summer and saw one of these ethanol plants being built near my father's homestead. It definitely polluted the landscape!

  • haggis basher Aug 24, 2007

    Its pretty dumb to make ethanol from good corn. Firstly as stated it takes as much energy to create it as you get back, secondly its less energy efficient than Gasoline so you get less miles to the gallon, Thirdly it raises the price of food.

    It will be good for farmers as it increases demand and hence prices but other than that I can't see any positives at all.
    If they could make Ethanol from waste materials it might be worth doing but even then it would be necessery to first carefully do the Cost-benefit math.

  • Adelinthe Aug 24, 2007

    "That is we will burn more energy in making the fertilizer..."

    Corn doesn't need fertilizer, unless you're on one of those fancy farms. Additionally, there's plenty of fertilizer lying on the ground around poultry and hog farms, just needs to be cured for a year.

    God bless.

    Rev. RB