Local News

Va. ethanol plant debate could affect N.C.

Posted August 23, 2007 8:49 p.m. EDT
Updated April 30, 2008 6:49 p.m. EDT

— 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.