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in the above-captioned matter, before Hearing Officer Stan Rigney, taken before me, Lindy L. Meyer, Jr., a Notary Public in and for the State of Indiana, County of Shelby, at the South Spencer High School Auditorium, 1142 North Orchard Road, Rockport, Indiana, on Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 6:01 o'clock p.m. CDT.
William F. Daniels, RPR/CP CM d/b/a
Acurate Reporting of Indiana
12922 Brighton Avenue
Carmel, Indiana 46032
THE HEARING OFFICER: Well, good evening. Can I please have your attention? I think we'd like to get started, so if everybody wants to take a seat.
Will the official court reporter designated for this hearing please stand, raise your right hand, state your name?
THE HEARING OFFICER: My name is Stan Rigney, and I'm the Section Chief of the Industrial NPDES Permits Section.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Talk into that mic if you want us to hear.
THE HEARING OFFICER: Okay. Sorry. Usually people can hear me anyway. So, my name is Stan Rigney. I'm the Section Chief for the Industrial NPDES Permits Section of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Office of Water Quality, Permit Branch, and I have been appointed by the Commissioner to act as the Hearing Officer at the public hearing scheduled for this evening.
I'd like to go ahead and introduce some of the other IDEM representatives. Paul Higginbotham, he's the Branch Chief for our Permits Branch; Richard Hamblin, he's the permit writer; we have Amy Hartsock outside, he's -- or she handles the media, she's right there at the door; and the two at the table, they also work in my section, Holly Zurcher and Miranda Ritchie.
The purpose of this hearing is to give all interested persons an opportunity to comment on the draft permit for the Indiana Gasification, LLC. Notice of the time and place of this hearing was given as required by law in the Journal Democrat, May 31st, 2012.
Appearance cards are available for all of those who want to speak on the record in this matter. If you have not already filled out a form and wish to speak, please do so at this time at the registration table. Be sure to indicate whether your are appearing for yourself or on behalf of a group or organization. Also note the capacity in which you appear, such as attorney, officer or authorized spokesperson.
Any person who speaks or is represented at this hearing or who requests notice will be given written notice of the Commissioner's final action, including IDEM's response to all comments submitted.
When appearance cards have been completed, they should be handed to either Richard or the either Holly or Miranda at the registration table, and I will include them in the official record of this hearing. Both oral and written statements will be considered and included in the record, and please hand any written statements to either Richard or someone at the table.
A written transcript of the hearing will be made. The transcript will be open for public inspection at IDEM's downtown Indianapolis office, and we will also put a copy on the Web site. Additional written comments not submitted this evening can be submitted via mail or e-mail, but must be postmarked or e-mailed no later than July 16th, 2012 to be considered for the final determination.
The mailing address is IDEM, Office of Water Quality, NPDES Permits, Mail Code 65-42, Room 1255, 100 North Senate Avenue, Indianapolis, Indiana, 46204, attention Richard Hamblin, and his e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The draft permit is available for public inspection at the Spencer County Health Department, IDEM's Southwestern Regional Office, Spencer County Public Library, and IDEM's Central Office, Indiana Government Center North, 100 North Senate Avenue from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. A copy of the draft permit is also available on IDEM's Web site. Some copies of the permit may still be available at the registration table.
And at this time, Richard Hamblin, the IDEM Permit Manager for the Indiana Gasification, LLC permit, will provide a brief PowerPoint presentation.
MR. HAMBLIN: All right. Good evening. As Stan said, my name is Richard Hamblin. I am a senior environmental manager, industrial permit writer, and we are here to talk about the --
MR. HIGGINBOTHAM: Richard, pull that mic up and talk into it.
MR. HAMBLIN: Oh, I'm sorry.
If you can't hear me, just holler -- to talk to the Indiana Gasification facility here in Rockport. The purpose of this hearing is to provide a quick overview on the NPDES program, discuss the significance of this permit, identify effluent limitations contained in this permit, identify other significant permit conditions, and outline the NPDES permit next steps.
In 1972, the Clean Water Act was enacted to address serious pollution problems affecting the nation's rivers, lakes and coastal waters. Included in the Clean Water Act, in Section 402, which was the establishment of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination, or NPDES, program. The NPDES program regulates discharge of pollutants into the nation's waters through the issuance of NPDES permits.
NPDES permits are issued to all point source discharges of pollutants into waters of the United States. They must obtain NPDES permit coverage from the EPA or an NPDES-authorized state, and the EPA has delegated that authority to the State of Indiana.
An individual NPDES permit is a permit specifically tailored to an individual facility, and is developed based on the information contained in the permit application. To put that in context, general permits are defined by rule for all facilities of a similar nature, so the individual permits are really tailored to that specific facility.
And furthermore, industrial permits are a classification of types of individual permits, and they break down into two categories: Major and minor discharges. A major discharger is a facility that is designated by considering the nature and quantity of pollutants discharged, the character and assimilative capacity of the receiving water, the presence of toxic pollutants in the discharge, and the compliance history of the discharger. All of those things are evaluated to determine if a facility is designated as a major discharger, and, of course, minor discharges are those that are not designated as major.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Can you repeat that phrase, or repeat the whole thing?
(Discussion off the record.)
MR. HIGGINBOTHAM: There.
MR. HAMBLIN: Oh, there we go. Okay. IDEM's role as a delegated authority is to develop state regulation and issue permits to restrict dischargers -- or discharges to the environment, albeit air, land or water, to safe levels, and IDEM inspects and monitors permitted facilities to ensure compliance with the permits, enforces against people who are not in compliance with permit levels or violate state and federal regulations, and educates people on their environmental responsibilities.
Okay. For the NPDES permitting process, a facility first submits an application. IDEM reviews that application for completeness and accuracy. If it is deemed incomplete, IDEM can request additional information.
IDEM then prepares a draft permit, along with a fact sheet or briefing memo. A fact sheet is for those major discharges, a briefing memo is for the minor discharges, but they're really the same thing. They're a justification for the proposed permit conditions.
IDEM then places the draft permit on public notice to request comments from the public, you know, an industry, or any interested party. IDEM then considers and responds to those comments, and if warranted, makes changes to the draft permit, and then finally, IDEM issues a final permit if it is determined that that was the decision the agency's going to make.
For those of you that have seen a copy or picked up a copy of the permit out there, the actual permit, this slide kind of breaks down the components of it. It begins with a cover page, identifying the discharger and the location of the discharge.
The next section will identify effluent limitations, whether technology based or water quality -- we'll get into that later -- monitoring and reporting requirements, special conditions such as compliance schedules or storm water management plans, and then all NPDES permits have standard conditions that are also included.
The fact sheet or the briefing memo is a requirement of all NPDES permits, and in that you will find stuff like the principal facts and policy questions considered in preparing the permit, a description of the activities covered, the types of discharges covered, the rationale for permit requirements, and a brief summary of permit conditions and the basis for such. These actually come from the federal regulations in 40 CFR 124.8 and .56. There's a whole long section that identifies everything that has to be in those.
Prior to issuance, the draft permit has to be placed on public notice for a minimum of 30 days to receive comments from the public and the permittee. We chose to do a 45-pay period for this permit. During the public notice period, any interested party, including the permittee, may present written comments to IDEM regarding conditions the permit.
After we've received those comments, we must consider and respond to all comments in conjunction with the issuance of the final permit. If permit conditions are significantly changed in the response to comments, then we can redraft the permit, and we may have the opportunity for another public hearing.
As many of you are probably already aware, the Indiana Gasification process -- project is a coal gasification plant that plans to produce substitute natural gas and liquefied carbon dioxide. Indiana Gasification, which I'll refer to as IG for simplistic purposes, is under a 30-year contract with the Indiana Finance Authority to sell substitute natural gas.
In addition, they also plan on selling liquefied carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery operations in the Gulf Coast region. Secondary commodities that they plan to produce is sulfuric, argon, and potentially some electric power.
Here is a map of the facility. It's probably kind of hard to see from there. Let's see. There's the outfall and the intake structure on the Ohio, the actual facility will be up here, and then coal storage, some storm water retention ponds, slag storage will all be contained in a basin here. As -- to put this in context, this is the AP Rockport facility over here, and then the City of Rockport down here.
All right. What is coal gasification? The gasification process converts coal or petcoke into substitute natural gas and liquefied carbon dioxide. Basically the coal or the petcoke is ground up, mixed with water to make kind of a thick slurry, and reacted with pure oxygen in a gasifier unit under heat and pressure. That produces a synthetic gas mixture.
Through this, the next step, the gas cleanup process, the facility plans to be able to separate the liquefied carbon dioxide and collect that, as I mentioned, for the enhanced oil recovery in the Gulf Coast region. The remaining gas is put through a methanation process, which produces the substitute natural gas.
Gasification technologies have been around in other industries, such as the chemical, refining and fertilizer industries, and there are more than 150 gasification plants operating worldwide, and 19 plants in the United States, and I believe this will be the third one in Indiana.
Raw water supply for the facility will come from the Ohio River, as I mentioned before. They also have the potential to use storm water, and anticipate recycling water. No water will come from area aquifers, and the water used from the Ohio River is figured out under average usage to be about .2 percent of the Ohio River flow at low-flow conditions, which I think we're getting close to.
The facility, as I mentioned, it will filter and reuse the majority of wastewater coming from the gasification process, with the residual water evaporated in a zero liquid discharge system. There will be no discharge of gasification process wastewaters. That's waters that come in direct contact with raw, intermediate or final products. And as I mentioned, the facility will collect and use storm water, which will reduce the overall usage of the raw water makeup and storm water discharges.
This is kind of a simplified flow diagram. There's one in the briefing memo of the permit that's much more complicated, but this kind of breaks it down. As you can see from this, if we start in the lower left-hand corner, that's the Ohio River. Water that they're taking in, will be some initial treatment there right away, some clarification and stuff like that to clean up the water a little bit.
The majority -- the arrows on this flow diagram or proportional in volume, so the larger arrows are the larger volumes, the smaller arrows are the smaller ones. So, the majority of it will go to use as a -- in the recirculating water system, which is noncontact cooling water. Most of that is going to be lost into evaporation.
Some of that initial treated water will get further treated by a reverse osmosis system and a demineralizing system. Some of that water will be used in the boiler, and that will flow down periodically and contribute to the discharge of the cooling water.
In addition, from the RO, reverse osmosis, and demineralizing system, there will be some backwash waters that is also authorized to be discharged. But the water going after that will go into the gasification process. Some of it will remain in the products, but the majority of the wastewaters coming from the gasification process will go through the zero liquid discharge system.
And then the rainfall up there in the top left corners, that's just kind of to show that they do anticipate using some of the storm water that falls in certain areas of the facility, actually in -- as makeup water to the gasification process, and I'll talk about that a little bit later.
Okay. What are effluent limitations? Effluent limitations can be water quality based or technology based, and we are obligated to apply whichever are the more stringent limitations.
Technology based effluent limitations reflect the minimum level of pollutant treatment and control that must be achieved for various categories of dischargers. There happens to not be a gasification category right now, and I -- but for this facility, we did use some technology based effluent limitations, utilizing best professional judgment.
Water quality based effluent limitations are established to ensure that dischargers do not cause a violation of state water quality standards. Water quality standards are established to protect human health and aquatic life, and those are set forth in our 327 IAC 2-1.
Technology based limitations, there -- for each category of discharger there's usually several different technology based standards. Again, we are obligated to apply the most stringent. There's the best practicable control technology currently available, the best available technology economically achievable, the best conventional pollutant control technology, new source performance standards -- that's for new facilities -- pretreatment standards for existing and new sources. Those are for facilities that discharge to POTW's and, you know, the local sewer.
As I mentioned earlier, there is no gasification category contained in technology based effluent limitations; therefore, IDEM utilized best professional judgment to incorporate technology based effluent limitations from the steam electric power generating point source category. The primary discharge of this facility will be cooling water.
As it is a new discharger, we are using the new source performance standards as a basis, and the following effluent limitations have been included for this facility: There's total suspended solids limitation, there's chromium and zinc monitoring, and then there's to be no detection of 126 priority pollutants containing chemicals added for cooling tower maintenance. If you want to see all 126 of them, they're in Appendix A of 40 CFR 423.15.
The water quality based effluent limitations that are included in this permit are for pH; oil and grease, which is based on a narrative water quality, which I'll get to next; total residual chlorine and total residual oxidants, and those are due to the use of water treatment -- specific water treatment additives at the facility, which I will also get to.
The narrative water quality criteria are contained in every NPDES permit. They're just kind of narrative limitations that say you can't have a discharge that will settle to form objectionable deposits; are unsightly; produce color, sheen, odor or other nuisances; are in a concentration that will cause for contribute to the growth of algae to be unsightly or a nuisance or otherwise impair the designated uses; or the discharge is in concentrations sufficient to be acutely toxic.
The monitoring and reporting requirements included in this permit are used to evaluate the wastewater treatment efficiency and determine compliance with permit conditions; the parameters that must be monitored and at a minimum monitoring frequency based on the source and nature of the discharge. The monitoring results are then sent to IDEM on a monthly basis on forms referred to as Discharge Monitoring Reports.
The following parameters are also included in the permit, but as a monitoring and reporting basis: The temperature; mercury; chromium; zinc; iron; manganese; nickel; COD, which is chemical oxygen demand; carbonation biological oxygen demand; total -- I can't even say that word, but it's a type of nitrogen; nitrate plus nitrite nitrogen; and phosphorus.
And once we get some actual data on those parameters we will then re-evaluate them and determine if there's a reasonable potential to exceed Indiana water quality standards for any of those parameters.
MR. PEARCE: Who does the monitoring?
MR. HAMBLIN: They do.
MR. PEARCE: They do.
MR. HAMBLIN: Yeah, and they submit it to IDEM in the Discharge Monitoring Reports.
The discharge limitation tables included in the permit are for the discharge. There's an internal monitoring table for the cooling tower blowdown to monitor that waste stream; a discharge table to monitor the final discharge of nonprocess waste waters, which would include the boiler -- would be the cooling water, the boiler water and the treatment of reject waters; and any final discharge of facility storm water.
In addition, the facility must comply with Part II.C of the NPDES permit, which basically says any change in operation or any change in waste characterization, they have to notify us so we can modify the permit accordingly. And then they must use the applicable discharge limitation table for the applicable discharge that's in the permit.
Standard conditions are conditions in all NPDES permits, and they delineate the legal, administrative and procedural requirements of the permit. These are found in Part II. This is basically all -- that covers all of their notification requirements and reporting requirements and, you know, things that are standard for all permits.
In addition, there are the potential to have compliance schedules. Section 502 of the Clean Water Act is -- establishes compliance schedules for certain facilities under certain conditions. Basically the purpose is to give an existing discharger time to make required changes in facilities or operations to comply with new or more stringent effluent limitations.
I just wanted to allow -- or identify that since this is a new facility, it does not qualify for a schedule of compliance, so all of the effluent limitations in the permit are final from the issuance of the permit.
Antidegradation is a regulatory policy for the protections of waters where the water quality is better than water quality standards. The fa -- IDEM or the facility will -- or well, the facility has to identify alternative discharge scenarios or alternatives to discharging, and if they are discharging, they have to evaluate the economic and social benefits of the discharge. Appendix A of the briefing memo has such a demonstration in it, so if you'd like further information, I would recommend looking at that information. It's quite lengthy.
As I showed on the map, the facility does plan to install a cooling water intake structure on the Ohio River. Part III of the permit will establish monitoring requirements for evaluating environmental impacts resulting from the operation of that intake structure, so if you're curious about the intake structure and the requirements, it's found in Part III of the permit.
The facility also has some storm water. There is -- the permit requires quarterly monitoring of the discharge of storm water. There are also specific storm water conditions in the permit, under the "Special Conditions" section, and for this particular facility, that's primarily for the coal handling and use operations.
There are -- in that same section is also nonnumeric storm water limits. These are mainly best management practices requirements, and then IDEM pooled all of the storm water requirements using best professional judgment from the U.S. EPA Storm Water Multi-Sector Permit.
Here's another map you can't really see. This is a close-up of the facility. This is the facility area I was pointing to on the original map, and then this is the basin area. This map really kind of shows the storm water. I did want to -- this is the main process area -- or no, I'm sorry, here it is, in the red. This is the main process area. Any of the storm water that falls in that area is collected in a basin, and that is the primary water that they plan to utilize recycling. So, there is no discharge of storm water from this area.
This is another process area here, in the blue. There's the four squares. They also collect the first inch flush of storm water that falls in that area, and plan to recycle that as well. There'll be no discharge from the first inch. After the first inch, that water will get sent over to these basins. There's three different basins, and they also collect any of the water that -- or any of the storm water that falls in that area.
The other areas, these are more -- I wouldn't call them process areas, but they are exposed to industrial activity. Discharge out -- outfalls along their perimeter, and those are included in the permit, and they have to monitor those on a quarterly basis.
Water treatment additives. How does IDEM go about approving or not approving water treatment additives? It's a separate application process. We look at the dosage rate, a copy of the material safety data sheet, and applicable blowdown rates of the boiler and cooling water systems, and the discharge concentration of the chemicals contained in the additive.
IDEM then calculates the acute and chronic values, and the discharge concentration must be below the calculated acute value, and the in-stream concentration must be below the calculated chronic value. If it is below those acute and chronic values, then, for the most part, it is approvable. If it exceeds those values, then we will not approve it.
Here's a list of the water treatment additives approved at the facility, and I'll give you a second to read all of those. Some of them are, you know, just letters and numbers. You know, that information is part of the public record, so if you'd like more information, I can certainly provide that. This is all -- this information's also included in the briefing memo, I believe Section 5.6.
The next steps for this permit, the permit was public noticed May 31st, 2012. As I mentioned, we did put it on a 45-day comment period. The public hearing date is today, July 10th. Public comments are due by July 16th. IDEM will review those public comments and make necessary permit changes to ensure the final permit meets federal and state requirements.
In addition, the U.S. EPA is reviewing this draft permit, and it's anticipated that they will issue us a no-objection letter to the issuance of the permit, and then we will issue the permit or plan to issue the permit, and the period to appeal the permit is 18 days after the final issuance.
And with that, I will hand that back over to Stan.
THE HEARING OFFICER: Thank you. You're a little taller than I am. Thanks, Richard.
What we'll also do, because there's a lot of information on this PowerPoint, we'll go ahead and include that on our Web site, so you already have the draft permit and everything on there. We'll include this, and when we get a transcript of the hearing, we'll put that up there, too.
So, and since this is a hearing, we're going to -- I'll call people up. I think we have like seven or so cards right now, and you can speak into this mic here, and it will go into the record, and we'll respond to all comments made tonight orally or submitted to us in written form as part of the written response, which will be part of the final permit.
So, in consideration of everyone present, we'd appreciate it if you would keep your comments -- five minutes or so, I think, should be enough time for everybody. We'll kind of go through each one, but comments should be directed to the substance of the proposed NPDES permit, and then, like I said, we'll respond in writing to all comments after the comment period is over.
I'm going to apologize ahead of time, because I have the feeling I'm not going to get some of these names right.
Ron Barnes, did you want to speak tonight?
MR. BARNES: Yeah.
THE HEARING OFFICER: Do you want to come up to this microphone so everybody can hear you?
MR. BARNES: My name is Ron Barnes, and I'm a native of Spencer County for almost 40 years, and I have a little information here. How many of you gentlemen here represent IDEM?
THE HEARING OFFICER: Three of us.
MR. BARNES: Four? Four?
THE HEARING OFFICER: No.
MR. HIGGINBOTHAM: Three of us.
THE HEARING OFFICER: There's three of us up here. This is the court reporter. Everybody else up here is from IDEM.
MR. BARNES: Do any of you live in South Spencer County?
MR. HIGGINBOTHAM: No, sir.
MR. BARNES: No? Okay. And another question is: Where did IDEM get its funding?
MR. HIGGINBOTHAM: Sir, tonight's a hearing, and we're going to take comments and listen, but we won't be responding tonight to --
MR. BARNES: You won't be responding?
MR. HIGGINBOTHAM: -- comments. Well, we'll respond to everything in writing as one --
MR. BARNES: Oh.
MR. HIGGINBOTHAM: -- as one group.
MR. BARNES: Okay.
MR. HIGGINBOTHAM: So, we just wanted to give us an opportunity to hear from the folks here tonight, and from South Spencer County.
MR. BARNES: Okay. So, I'll skip over. In a report released, that was in '06, Indiana was the third-largest polluting state in the U.S.; okay? Spencer County was number one in Indiana, and how did that come about? Now, that's really something to be proud of if you live in Spencer County. And total amount of on-site disposals for these two plants that we've got here, 35,779,863 pounds of air and river pollution.
Now, how do you condone this plant coming in here and adding to this? There's no reason. See, all of the people here recognize or realize the amount of coal there will be on our roads and in our county to fuel this plant. And no matter what they say, coal technology is in the past. There's no way that you can burn coal cleanly.
MR. BARNES: No, you can't burn it. Now, I worked in a power plant for 37 years, and I know how they go about their business. And to all of you, look in the past and realize what has been forced on us, Barmet, our two polluting companies we have right now, and realize what has been forced on us by our elected officials and so on and so forth, because no group in the past has ever tried to stand up to this process of what we're going through right now, and we can do a heck of a lot better than this plant here. We can do better as a county.
MR. BARNES: We don't need this -- we don't need it. And there is one group that has opposed this plant from the start, Spencer County Citizens for Quality of Life, which will have a meeting at Oak Ridge Park, July the 16th. So, come and find out more facts about this plant.
And if you have any questions, there's a very knowledgeable man sitting over here. His name is Rex Winchell, and his phone number is 649-5957, and he will be glad to fill you in and let you know when the meeting's going to be, but it's July the 16th.
Thank you. I appreciate it.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: What time?
MR. BARNES: Sir?
MR. HIGGINBOTHAM: I think somebody said -- asked him what time.
THE HEARING OFFICER: I think somebody asked what time.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: What time is the meeting?
MR. BARNES: July the 16th. I'm not sure about the time.
THE HEARING OFFICER: All right. Thanks for your time.
THE HEARING OFFICER: The next speaker I have is -- is it Bill Young?
MR. YOUNG: Did I understand you correctly that you're not going to respond? I have a process question, and maybe you covered it, but you can't respond? The first question is --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Can you speak louder?
MR. YOUNG: Okay.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Speak into the mic.
MR. HIGGINBOTHAM: Can you give your name again, sir?
MR. YOUNG: My name is Bill Young. On the permit process, does it work like if you have an individual -- right now we have three -- we have two plants that exist, I believe, that have discharge permits into the river. This would be a third one. Are the cumulative effects of that discharge into a short area of the river, does that come into consideration at all?
When you establish a maximum, and you say it's going to be two point something off the individual, and it meets the criteria, when it's all going into a mile area of the river or a short distance of the river, cumulatively, does that come into the permit consideration?
MR. HIGGINBOTHAM: I'll just say yes, it is, but we'll explain that in how we respond to the comments. It's part of what's called a waste load analysis. So, that is factored into a waste load analysis.
MR. YOUNG: So, all three sites, the cumulative of that goes into consideration?
MR. HIGGINBOTHAM: All of those sites and what they discharge is looked at.
MR. YOUNG: Okay. That's one of --
MR. HIGGINBOTHAM: The multidischarge issue.
MR. YOUNG: Okay. Well, that's one of the things you should be looking for is the cumulative.
MR. HIGGINBOTHAM: And we'll be sure to explain that more in written comments, too.
MR. YOUNG: Okay. How typical is it -- when you have a new site that's being considered and approved, how typical is it for it to be asked to be modified within, say, one to two years? You have a new start-up. On paper, it's supposed to have X amount of discharge. They get opening the plant, a year goes by and they come back and ask for a modification. Is that very typical or -- that would be the second question I would ask.
And that is really -- that's a due process question, okay, other than the comment that I think Ron was commenting about the history of our immediate area. You just have to drive outside of town just maybe a mile, there's a couple hundred acres out there, or at least a hundred, that's called Barmet.
If you go out and look at what happened at Barmet 30 years ago, many of the things that are being promoted about this proposal in terms of no impact environmental-wise, jobs, all of this stuff, go out and read the newspaper articles what was being said then, and go out and look what's out there now. I don't know if it's officially on the toxics wastes list, but I'm pretty sure that it's pretty barren and no one wants to build there. So, I think that the idea about pollution in the county in the immediate area is a serious one.
MR. HIGGINBOTHAM: What was the name of the --
MR. YOUNG: Bar -- well, it was called Barmet.
MR. HIGGINBOTHAM: Barmet.
MR. YOUNG: There used to be signs down there that said, "Fog." I mean there was so much smog that you couldn't drive certain times of the day. But if you go out and look at how it was being promoted, new technology, jobs, the whole nine yards, it's pretty similar to what we're talking about here, except they weren't looking for government guarantees and they weren't looking for government price fixing.
THE HEARING OFFICER: Thanks for your comments.
THE HEARING OFFICER: The next speaker is Ben Taylor.
MR. TAYLOR: Thank you. I'll try to be very brief. My name's Ben Taylor. I live in Maceo, Kentucky. I have a farm over there.
I think everyone's aware that the weather is getting very strange. We had the wettest December on record, followed by six months of extreme drought. We just experienced a three-week heat wave that probably equals any previous one recorded in this area, breaking many records.
We're -- we've also just witnessed a massive storm that extended from Indiana to the East Coast, knocking out power to millions of people during this heat wave, and we're also witnessing an enormous number of wild fires in the west that are fanned by strong winds, drought, and they're dumping large amounts of soot, carbon dioxide, various pollutions in the air.
We can't have business as usual. That's for the past. We understand now that there are consequences of putting massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. We don't have very much time to change. It's getting rather late. We need to stop increasing emissions, and then quickly reducing them in the next couple of decades, if we're going to have any chance of avoiding some really, really serious consequences for our grandchildren.
We're seeing things right now that are serious, but it won't compare to what will happen at the end of this century. Everything that we do for enhanced prosperity looks good for the economy, and I respect your concerns about the local economy. You should be concerned about it, but I'm afraid that as we go into the future, we're going to find that economic gains are eaten up by detrimental environmental consequences.
I thank you very much for allowing me to speak frankly about this subject.
THE HEARING OFFICER: Thank you for your comments.
THE HEARING OFFICER: The next speaker is Chuck Botsko.
MR. BOTSKO: My name is Chuck Botsko, B o t s k o, Gentryville, Indiana, and let me first start by saying that we're not surprised that IDEM has already approved the air permit and is in the process of approving the water permit for this particular plant. Historically in Spencer County, IDEM had already approved the Barmet, AK Steel, and the I & M air and water permit also, and we know how well that's going.
Being a new facility and somewhat new technology, IDEM, of course, had to make a determination based on what the company provided them. We can only hope that the requirements that were added are enforced and that the continue -- monitoring is continued if it's added -- proposed to be built.
It's hard to -- for regular folks like us to imagine 11 million gallons of water coming out of the Ohio and out of the eight discharges that the plant's proposing, possibly only two million gallons going back in. We're losing it there.
The proposed site is prone to flooding. Even if the plant location and the roads going into it are elevated 12 to 14 feet high, like the company is proposing, to get it out of the flood plain, where's that water going to go and how's it going to affect the property owners around it? Will the on-site pits, collection pits, be deep enough to handle that water?
What is disheartening is that IDEM does not take into consideration the cumulative effect of toxic releases in any particular area. When it releases the toxic waste inventory for state and county, Spencer has been rated -- the last time it came out with 2010 data, Spencer County came in second, next to Lake County, for the amount of toxic materials that are released into our air, water and land.
Based on this latest report, AK Steel released 11,759 tons and I&M released 2,712 tons of toxic materials into the land, air and water. Most of AK's went into the Ohio River. Why even have a toxic release inventory? What is its purpose if IDEM doesn't look at it, and looks at each permit as an isolated location? Where's the environmental justice, and why are we allowing this plant to be built here? Spencer County residents better prepare for continued industrialization of the southern part of the county. Do you think that this proposed industrial plant is going to be the last thing coming in? What will follow this?
Indiana gasification already mentioned that some of the byproducts that they're going to be producing as waste are going to be sold to other companies to use in their processes or to produce other things. Do you think that those plants are going to want to build 50 miles away when they can build close by and have the materials easily transmitted to them -- or transported to them?
Of course, that will provide more jobs, according to our leaders. What about the ethanol plant and the coal, the diesel plant? Don't you think we should get that back in on the drawing board, since we've got this area available and we're going to be having plenty of coal coming into the county, with I&M and Indiana Gasification, and we still produce corn, even though our tillable acreage is disappearing forever.
While other companies are moving away from coal gasification because of the lower cost and availability of natural gas and the great potential for the cost overruns and the construction of such a facility, Leucadia and IG want us -- or want them to really dive into this project.
Remember when Duke Edwardsport was under the plans, they were expecting it to cost a billion dollars in construction costs, then it went up to 1.9 billion, then they came back to the IURC talking about it having to be 2.35 billion, and I think the final cost is close to over three billion dollars.
But we must also remember that Leucadia and Indiana Gasification is asking the Federal Government for the money to build the plant and the pipeline. They've already got the contract with the state to buy the gas. How many companies would like to have that deal? They don't have to put up very much money because they're going to get a large portion of it from the Federal Government, our tax money, and then the states that guarantee the purchase of that gas.
And then they're going to turn around and force the natural gas suppliers in the state to purchase it from the -- from the state. Those prices are going to be passed on to the residential customers, because the industrial users of natural gas have been exempt from that deal. They're not going to be affected by the increase of the cost of the synthetic gas.
Finally, in June of last year, a letter was placed to the editor of our local papers informing landowners that some would eventually be approached for the right-of-ways for the pipelines that have to be produced, one, the carbon dioxide pipeline and another one for the synthetic gas.
Last September the Spencer County Farm Bureau sponsored an informative meeting about right-of-ways and property owners' rights and what to be aware of before signing any papers. Right now it looks like the proposed carbon dioxide pipeline is going to be running west from the plant, probably just north of the school here on 200. It's going to be going west to the existing pipeline that runs across the Ohio River by Boonville Boat Club.
So, those of you that are property owners along that route will probably be hearing from representatives from the company to try to get right-of-ways for that pipeline. Last night, tonight and Thursday night, the DOE is already having hearings in Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi for that pipeline construction.
So, if you're a property owner, make sure you get legal advice and don't just sign papers. Of course, that all goes based on fighting this continually, because they still haven't received the loan guarantee from the Federal Government.
Thank you very much.
THE HEARING OFFICER: Thank you for your comments.
THE HEARING OFFICER: The next speaker is Warren Kirk.
MR. KIRK: I'll pass the opportunity. Thank you.
THE HEARING OFFICER: Okay.
I already apologize; I'm going to get this name wrong. James Lacy --
MR. KAMUF: Kamuf.
Hello, everyone. My name is James Lacy Kamuf. I will try to ask some questions about it, but I do have some comments. I'm a little guy, so this mic fits me just about perfect, but I have some big opinions about this.
I was a SIMS engineer in a power plant right here in Indiana, so I do agree, I have seen people cheat. When it comes down to it, if you're an engineer and you're about to fail some quality standard, you will make the lights work right, whatever you have to do. If you have to top the solenoids, introduce gas, you will. You don't want to report to the plant manager, you just do it to save your permit.
And the ramifications of that, the bureaucracy and the legal, I haven't done it, but I have seen it done. It will be done if someone really thinks it's going to be a bad indication on their job in some way if they didn't maintain the test equipment properly. Believe me, after a while when people use the equipment, they'd offer me how to gerrymander it. I've seen it.
And you would think there are things that are buried deep within the electronic records that we'd catch people doing that. In reality, when you're dependent on resource, that kind of investigative work isn't done.
Of course, there will be -- independent outside contractors will come in and verify this in the end, once or twice a year, but in between those points they'll operate as they wish, in my opinion. They will make these pollution standards work one way or the other.
I'm in agreement the Ben about the climate. We had -- and I will say this. That -- give me a little leeway, because you introduced some facts about how this technology's been around a hundred years. It really doesn't have any bearing in my mind on water quality issues, but what we saw down here this winter, it was 80 degrees, in the winter, and we've just seen a forecast of a 109-degree day down here, so we really need to begin to talk about the environmental impacts of these plants, and I couldn't agree with Ben more. But we didn't know better at one time, but we're really beginning to know better.
I would like to -- you spoke of 19 plants like this, but I'm only aware of one other industrial plant, as John Blair says, and IDEM states they wouldn't try to do this if it wasn't economically feasible. But here's a bigger question, and I really want ask you the question that pertains to water.
You know, we all do pass the buck here. I was a SIMS engineer, and it was just my job to monitor pollution. It really wasn't my job whether it was right or not, you know, but the acidification of our ocean, I mean even if are able to sequester this CO2, this is going to probably acidify our ocean even longer.
And as IDEM -- now, they'll probably say that's not within your scope or your jurisdiction, but in reality, it is truly a water quality issue, because the only thing more scary about doubling the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere in the last hundred years -- and you ought to think of making a comparable -- we're changing the acidification of the ocean.
The ocean acts as a big scrubber and removes the CO2 in the process, and anybody that has an environmental background knows that. It's kind of amazing how it occurs. If you study more about nature, how it really works, it's amazing. We have methane at the bottom of the Gulf ocean, believe it or not, crystalline foam. That could boil off if we changed the thermal pollution of the Gulf.
And that's another question. What is -- what is the thermal ramification? How much heat is this going to add to the Ohio River, the process of doing this? But, you know, really we should be here tonight -- I understand people are really concerned about jobs and the environment, but Germany, through solar and wind, has created a 192-billion-dollar industry in renewables. So, we just --
MR. KAMUF: We really do -- we could have better employment opportunities than this, but these projects just keep going on, and in my mind, the more I learn about it, it's just corruption. Somebody's going to make a lot of money on this process, and that's just what keeps the ball rolling. That's what pays the attorney fees. That's what keeps this going. Some people are going to make a tremendous amount of money.
But the financial plan of this, the financials on this plant are terrible. I've just got to say that. And the more you study about it, the more economically it does not make sense, but it keeps on rolling on.
The -- you know, I would love to see this be a water permit process or something like a solar panel plant. I mean they're very polluting, they have heavy metals that introduce a certain amount of carcinogens, but at least we'd being making a step that was sustainable, not destroying ourselves, you know.
And nobody probably appreciates environmental issues probably better than IDEM or the EPA. You know, you guys really do read the nuts and bolts of it, you really do understand, and I think you've really got that responsibility, because you're really the people that should know what this is ultimately going to do to the environment better than anybody else. Nobody has a crystal ball, but you guys really have the training to understand this is dangerous.
You know, and another thing that just amazes me, though, too, in this process is -- I don't know about the water standards, so let me ask it in a question form. It is true that I think Indiana's the second most -- this is the second most polluted county in Indiana, and I believe it's the fourth most polluted county in the entire nation. That's why they're going to have to sequester the CO2, because -- and pipe it to Houston, because it's probably ultimately not going to be sequestered, but released to the environment. That's probably the reality.
But I mean do you guys -- what is the water quality levels nationally here for Spencer County? That is kind of my question. I would love to see that in writing. It's the fourth most polluted county, I believe, in the United States. What is the water standards overall compared to the rest of the United States?
And -- you know, and this process is really con -- it's so convoluted. You know, we have the air quality issues, you have, IDEM, the water quality issues, and it's just kind of like this big, you know, subterfuge, you know, or flim-flam.
And I'm sorry; we really do, too, need to direct this back to IDEM, and I didn't believe that power plant was issued because I got conscious about sea -- you know, global warming, but I'd really like to go back to it as I really read more and more about it. I really believe this is a destructive force going down.
And so, I would just encourage IDEM's people that really should know to try to put a stop to this in some way. I don't think anybody thinks this is a great idea. It's probably a terrible idea. We could do better, as the gentleman said. There's better things to do out there, and probably much more economical for everybody and would probably cause a lot more actual employment than this process would.
So, thank you for your time.
THE HEARING OFFICER: The next speaker is Thomas Pearce.
MR. PEARCE: What's going on with the sound system?
THE HEARING OFFICER: I've been moving back because I wasn't sure if it was me.
MR. PEARCE: Hello. My name is Thomas Pearce, and I'm a -- I'm a bunch of things, but I'm an organizer for the Sierra Club. I'm also a union member, and I'm a member of something called the Blue-Green Alliance, and it's really disturbed me here recently. It seems like everything in this country is for big business, and yet my brothers and sisters in organized labor, we seem to forget which side we're on.
And we're -- as a union member, I'd like to say that we're supposed to be part of -- standing up for working people, and working people are going to have to pay the rate increases for this synthetic gas that's going to cost three to four times more than gas that's naturally produced, and that big business is going to be exempt from that.
And that was passed through the legislature, a legislature controlled by the Koch brothers, who have just gutted our union brothers and sisters in Wisconsin and taken right to work legislation and rammed it down Indiana's nose. I just can't understand why we're going to be cheerleaders for these people to start off with.
I don't understand why we're going to tell working class people in this state, "I'm sorry, but we're going to pass the costs along for this plant because it's going to create a hundred jobs." It just doesn't seem fair. So, that's what I've got to say as a union member.
So, why should the Ohio valley and Spencer County, Indiana and Rockport be the lab rats for this experience? You said that this zero effluent discharge is not a tried-and-true technology, it hasn't been around a hundred years, and you don't have any standards for gasification yet. Maybe this plant shouldn't be approved until you do have some standards for gasification.
Why should we trust the industry to monitor itself? We saw how that worked out with the banking industry and Wall Street. Industry is not doing a really good job of monitoring itself. And you said -- I said, "Who's in charge of monitoring these -- these discharges?" They are. I wouldn't trust them. I wouldn't trust them to do anything, much less monitor their own toxins.
Rockport, Indiana, per capita, is one of the most polluted places on Earth. The emissions from Alcoa and the AEP plant down here equal the toxic emissions of ten major cities, and now you're going to add insult to injury to the citizens of this county, who have gotten up and spoke, and say, "Well, we're going to give you a little bit more, but this one's not no bad, it's not quite as bad."
Somebody said to me -- in the back, said, "But you know --" and by the way, the Ohio River has now been -- Pittsburgh News has now said that the Ohio River is now the most polluted river in the country. That's something to be proud of, isn't it? How many of you all are eating fish from the Ohio River? If you are, you're crazy.
So, you're going to say there's going to be zero discharge. The fact there is it's going to be one more pile of coal sitting on the Ohio River, and anywhere there's a pile of coal, there's going to be mercury. Anywhere there's a pile of coal, there's going to be some runoff. There's nothing in the design of this plant that can stop that. Anywhere you're dumping coal off on the ground, you're going to have more -- you're going to have more discharge, not from the plant, just from the fact that there's a pile of coal sitting there.
And, so the question I really would ask is: You know, haven't we been poisoned enough, and now we've got to pay for our own poison? They're going to pass the cost of us poisoning ourselves on to the ratepayers of Indiana, and they're going to exempt industry. How could anybody in organized labor stand for saying, "We're going to pass this on to the ratepayers and we're not going to charge industry one dime"?
I -- I don't -- I don't see how that would wash in a Christian's mind, in organized labors' mind, in a Republican's mind, in a Democrat's mind. In what -- whose mind does this work out in? Well, it works in Leucadia's mind, in a group of people that we're going to -- on top of everything else, we're going to guarantee them over two million dollars in loans to build the thing, out of your -- and so then -- okay.
So, that's a job created by taking money out of the pockets of the working people -- not just Indiana people, people in the whole country, because that's going to be some federally guaranteed loans -- over a plant that has the economic numbers -- it don't -- they don't work out. It's going to fail, and we're all going to be left holding the bag.
You know, there's a plant up in -- up north here in Indiana there, in Madisonville -- Madison, the Marble Hill, and it was built, and it's a ghost town now. It's just sitting there, because it was a failure, because of the corruption that went into making that thing. This thing has corruption written all over it.
So, the last thing I want to say --
MR. PEARCE: The last thing I want to say is this: Have you thought about the 16 million gallons of water? So, you've got zero effluent discharge, supposedly. Sixteen million gallons of water out -- again, nothing going out to a river that's stressed, right now at one of its lowest points in years. Granted, it floods sometimes, but what happens when the river -- there's one more company taking 16 million gallons of water out of river a day, at a time under drought conditions? Have you taken that into consideration?
I thank you for your time, and I appreciate you listening. I know I'm a little long-winded. That's all I have to say.
THE HEARING OFFICER: Thank you.
THE HEARING OFFICER: The next speaker is Tony Isbill.
MR. ISBILL: My name is Tony Isbill. I represent an organization in Owensboro, Kentucky called SOHNA, Save Our Homes Neighborhood Alliance, representing about 450 homeowners.
I'm going to share just a brief story, because I think it probably fits a lot of folks here. December of last year, if I'd have heard about something like this, I'd have said, "Well, that's over in Spencer County," and that's all that I would have thought about it.
And then in January of this year, I get a notice that a strip mine is going to ask for rezoning, and they're going to open up a pit 300 feet from my front door. That makes you get interested very quickly. And so, I have studied, I have researched, we have organized. We're in a fight over there like you are here. It made me realize that when it comes to these type of issues, we are all neighbors. The Ohio River shouldn't separate us.
This morning when I was coming to work, I looked at the Elmer Smith power plant, which is one of the highest polluting power plants in the nation. It puts out 2,503 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt hour of electricity created, 18th worst in the nation. It was blowing over Spencer County. And you didn't know that. So, when the wind blows, we pollute you, and when the wind blows this way, we get the pollution.
It's time for state boundaries not to separate our causes. We're in this together. In our fight and in my studies and in my research, I cannot find one thing, one thing positive, about the coal industry. It destroys the values of homes and property, it pollutes our air and our streams.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Soil.
MR. ISBILL: And our soil. It -- even on the economic impact, where it creates jobs, if you will count in the health care costs of our communities, it's not even comparable. It's always a negative impact economically to a community. Coal is on its way out. Just in the last --
MR. ISBILL: It is. Just in the last two weeks, there have been 500 people laid off in Eastern Kentucky because of the coal demand that's not there any longer. They're telling us that by the end of this year, electricity by -- created by the power plants will be less than 40 percent coal. In the next ten years, it's going to be less than 30 percent coal. Why? It's because it is an industry that is outdated.
And we are making decisions here tonight, or in the future, that if this plant goes into place, it's going to lock this community, Spencer County, Daviess County, the entire community, it's going to lock them into an antiquated industry for the next 40 to 50 years. We are making decisions here tonight that our -- generations behind us wouldn't make. They would not want it, they don't want it, and they won't want it when they get our age.
The truth is that the pollutants that are being created by the coal industry today is dramatically affecting the health of our citizens. It is killing some of our citizens. So, those of you that are making these decisions, who in this room do you choose to die because of your industry? Because that is exactly what you're doing.
If you have children, which one of your children do you choose to have respiratory problems because of the coal industry? A little more personal, isn't it? Because it is the truth. We are making decisions that are antiquated if we make a decision towards coal. There are other sources today. There are other things that will bring in positive effects into the community. It's time that we quit making antiquated decisions.
We've already heard that our air is one of the highest polluted air systems in America. We've already heard that the Ohio River is one of the highest polluted rivers, if not the highest polluted river, in America. And so, why would we ever as an agency make a decision to put more pollutant in our air and in our rivers? You have the moral obligation to not say, "A little more, but a little less."
MR. ISBILL: It is your obligation as an agency to protect us, not pollute more, not to allow more, not to say, "A little more." When is enough enough? Enough is already enough, and you have the obligation to say no to this permit. It is time that agencies that put up those type of presentations that we saw a while ago, that sound so wonderful, and then you let the industry self-monitor itself, it's time those agencies become accountable to the citizens.
I fear -- not fear. I hope that there will be litigation towards you if this is passed, because I know that they will not monitor themselves. They won't do it. There is permits that they get that says that no coal dust is to go outside of their coal -- out of the mine site, and yet any mine site that you go to, there are clouds of dust everywhere that is supposed to be self-regulated.
You cannot find one mining site that has ever decided to shut down their mining conditions because the wind was carrying the dust and the pollutant out of their mine site. Not one. They do not mon -- blasting. We've been lied to about their blasting. They said that they would not have any kind of fly rock, guaranteed. They can't guarantee it. And yet we are already -- in the Knoxville community there are people that cannot be outside and into their pools because fly rock flew into their pools. They didn't self-monitor.
This company will not self-monitor either, and you know it. You know that they will not meet the standards that you've put up on that screen. You know it. And knowing that and presenting that is fraud to the American people. It is time that you as an agency need to be held accountable for your actions to us for granting permits to people that you know will not monitor them, will not meet those standards.
And it's time that you say no, to stop this pollution, to stop this process, to stop this negative impact onto our communities. It's time you said that. I'm asking you not to be legislators, not to be lawyers and people that monitor things. I'm asking you as a father and as a grandfather to protect your generations, your children, because if you don't, who will?
THE HEARING OFFICER: The next speaker, Rex Winchell. I'm not sure I got that right.
MR. WINCHELL: That's me. It is I. I'm a little slow to get down here. I'll say a few words to you. I'm Rex Winchell. I live about two miles south of Rockport, out on Old State Road 45.
And I read your materials that you filed at Rockport's public library, and I must say that your testing procedures in there sound great, but this catalog that I got from them tonight is the only thing that has the types and amounts -- and the little talk you gave -- the types and amounts of pollutants that may be produced as a byproduct of producing syngas.
Now, there is no such thing as clean coal. Whoever coined this term has to be not right in the head, political I think they call it, some PC term, mentally challenged. This plant is going to produce an additional amount of pollution in an area, as we've heard, that is already severely polluted, toxic pollutions. You know it.
And my question is: How many of your personnel in IDEM will be available to test the effluent water from this proposed plant? Darn few, I'm sure. And you will rely on the people who are operating that plant to do the testing, and we just heard from the engineer here what happens in that situation. So, you'll swallow whatever they feed you.
Now, it seems that your agency accepts data that is proposed by the proponents of the syngas plant without doing much, if any, research to verify their data. Now, you said there are other coal gasification plants operating here in the United States. Have you checked with them to see what is coming out or what they say is coming out as byproducts from the process? Have you?
THE HEARING OFFICER: We'll, like I said, we'll answer all of the questions in writing.
MR. WINCHELL: Okay. And since both the executive and legislative branches of the State of Indiana have arranged for an agency to purchase syngas and then peddle it to the utility companies, it's obvious that there's been a lot of pressure from members of those branches for bringing Rock -- this Rockport plant to fruition, to get it done, and you people are part of the bureaucracy. You are appointed, you're not elected; right? Is that right?
THE HEARING OFFICER: I'm not appointed or elected.
MR. WINCHELL: So, there was another comment made that there are politics involved in this; okay? Now, the cost of producing syngas will never -- and I've got that underlined here -- make it competitive with natural gas, which is readily available at about 40 percent of the estimated -- the estimated price of syngas.
If you'll take a close look at the materials that I submitted up here at the entrance when I came here this evening, you will find that natural gas has already become so competitive as a heat source that it's giving this outdated coal a hard time. In this morning's Evansville Courier and Press, there was an article that tells all about that, I've put a copy of it in the materials that I've turned in.
Now, another thing; I have another question. If syngas is such a good deal, why is it that Leucadia, which is a big mover and shaker to try to get this plant in here, is asking the Federal Government for a low-interest loan -- and I'm talking about tax money -- for 80 percent of the cost of that plant, plus a pipeline to pipe off some of the carbon dioxide that's going to be produced by it?
Now, your agency, and I'm talking about IDEM, has got an abominable record for its failure to prevent toxic pollutant production here in the Southwestern Indiana. We have been the dumping ground for years. I came back here in 1961 from California, and I was absolutely flabbergasted by what goes on here in this area.
Now, I know you get a lot of pressure, so it appears that you're preparing to allow perhaps another clean coal operation here, right here in Rockport, and whoever coined that term, "clean coal," again, they certainly don't know what they're talking about.
MR. WINCHELL: It would take a ton of evidence to convince me that IDEM operates independently of a very strong influence of the elected officials at all levels of government. Theories and technology, unless they're supported by proof of safe use, and that they will produce no ill effects on public health, are not acceptable here, and they should not be acceptable in any other state of the union.
Now, the obvious ulterior nature of the push for coal gasification is a disgrace. This hearing is a farce, just an exercise to justify IDEM's existence as a viable agency for the ones who appointed you and would manipulate you like mindless puppets.
MR. WINCHELL: Tons of coal and coal ash will pollute the air, soil, water, eventually poisoning the river and the aquifer of this area, and you know it.
THE HEARING OFFICER: Thank you for your comments.
The next speaker is Tom Utter.
MR. UTTER: Good evening. Thank you for the opportunity for everyone to express themselves, and I know this has been, throughout this entire project for you the agency and the community, a long and very arduous process in which you give a lot of consideration in developing the technology. It appears to me that this permit, this is a solid draft.
Thank you very much for your careful consideration of this of this, and the professionals, I respect and appreciate what you've done, and look forward to seeing technologies come to this community and put a lot of people to work and improve the economy for this entire state.
Thank you again.
THE HEARING OFFICER: The next speaker is Jean Webb.
MS. WEBB: Hello. I'm Jean Webb. Thank you for providing this opportunity for me to present my concerns.
The permit indicated that the plant would pull water from the river for the gasification process, filter and reuse some of the water, and evaporate the rest. It also indicated that the plant will pull water from the river for the boiler and cooling tower. In short, this plant will require a lot of water. The source will be the Ohio River, my source for drinking water.
One week ago, the State Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana Department of the Homeland Security declared a water shortage warning for 32 counties, including Spencer and Vanderburgh Counties. The U.S. drought monitored map shows both counties coded D-3, drought extreme.
The EPA Web site on climate change captures my concern well. It says, and I quote in content, rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns and increasing droughts will affect the amount of water in lakes, rivers and streams, as well as the amount of water that seeps into the ground to replenish ground water. Public water supplies are at stake. Communities might have to find new sources of water to support their needs. People might also have to adapt to using less water. Droughts are expected to keep getting longer and more severe.
My request is that I would like IDEM and the U.S. EPA to evaluate this permit through the lens of climate change. We all need the water. It's a limited resource, and expected to grow more scarce.
I don't want to share my water with a plant that will significantly add toxins to my air, cost me as a taxpayer to fund its being built, cost me as a utility ratepayer due to Mitch Daniels' 30-year contract, cost me in increased health care premiums when the general population is sickened by its pollution, and enrich investors in hedge funds at my expense.
I don't want to share my water with them. Please do not approve this permit. .2 percent of the river is too much, according to my BPJ, best professional judgment.
THE HEARING OFFICER: The next speaker is William Sanders.
MR. SANDERS: I've just got a few questions for everyone that's talked away from this thing. I'm one -- I believe in the greenhouse gas and everything, but somewhere along the line, where are we going to get the alternative to power this country? We don't want nukes, with what happened in Japan. Wind and solar isn't going to do it.
Natural gas? There's more abundance of coal than there is natural gas. Coal alone has not been able to supply the power to this country. Natural gas isn't going to be able to do it. Wind and solar is not going to do it. So, what's going to be our alternative?
THE HEARING OFFICER: Thanks for your comment.
This is the last card that I have. This is Carol -- is it Oglesby?
MS. OGLESBY: Oglesby.
THE HEARING OFFICER: Oglesby.
MS. OGLESBY: Hi.
THE HEARING OFFICER: Hi.
MS. OGLESBY: This will be brief. I thank so many for their --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I can't hear you.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We can't hear.
MR. HIGGINBOTHAM: Adjust that for her, Stan.
MS. OGLESBY: Is this better?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes.
MS. OGLESBY: What I said was I agree with so much of what has already been said tonight, but I just wanted to come up here for emphasis. I live in Southwest Indiana, and my drinking water comes from the Ohio River. This plant would place additional strain on the Ohio River, as we've heard already identified, as the most polluted waterway in the United States.
Furthermore, we know that the Rockport area of Spencer County emits more toxic pollution than New York, Chicago and Los Angeles combined. We do know that there are other power sources that we can use, and I think if we can make an atomic bomb, I think that if we can put a man on the moon and we can have space stations with astronauts and shuttles, I think we can find alternative sources of energy.
THE HEARING OFFICER: Thanks.
THE HEARING OFFICER: All right. Thanks to everybody who spoke. I don't have any more cards, so if anybody filled out a card and I didn't get it or if there's anybody else that would like to testify.
Yes. Be sure and state your name, too.
MR. YEARBY: My name is Ferman Yearby, and I'm the President of the Rockport City Council, and I want to really thank you guys. I really want to thank you and EPA for looking out for our welfare.
I know several years ago we'd been worried about natural gas. Back -- it got up -- in 2008, it got up around $12, and we all thought, "Well, how are we going to make it through the future?" So, we knew we had a lot of shale gas, and that shale gas offered a lot of opportunity. But the problem was we had to frack it.
So, what's been happening over the last four years or so, you had several companies like Chesapeake and Exxon going in, trying to use new technologies, horizontal drilling, and then fracking that to create millions of fissures for that gas to come out and have enough pressure to make it profitable.
So, it's a new technology, and everybody has been euphoric about it, and especially in Ohio and Pennsylvania. And as a result of that, there's been a lot of natural gas captured, and it's driven the market down, along with the -- what's happened with the economy.
But what has happened in the last two years, and I thank EPA at the national level for really looking at this, there's a lot of pollution coming in from this fracking, and it's hydraulic fracking.
And in New York's -- in the State of New York, the Governor of New York has put a moratorium on this, so there's no fracking going on in New York, and EPA has gone back and looked at what's going on in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and they're starting to put in tougher standards for these drillers to go in and capture this.
So, EPA and you all, as being some in the state that are going for EPA, I thank you for looking at that, but what's going to happen is the price of pulling that natural gas out is going to be more -- is going to be more costly because there's going to be a lot more casing involved, and what it's doing is it's -- the gas that they're selling at the wellhead, they're selling at something like $2.50 to $3, but it's costing like $7 just to do it now, so you're starting to see a problem with these companies going bankrupt because they can't sustain this.
But the fact that EPA has looked at this pollution and this environmental potential nightmare -- and I know that people have not thought about it, but think about what's already happening in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and there's a tremendous amount of pollution.
So, what's happened is this panacea of shale gas that's going to last forever is not panning out, and what's going to happen over the next few years, the price of natural gas is going to automatically skyrocket because of what EPA has done. EPA has put in tougher sanctions, and that gas is going to become less competitive, and what's going to happen is a lot of people won't even get into it because of the Environmental problems.
So, the fact that you all are adapting, I appreciate it, but the reality is in the long run, over the next ten years, the price of extracting shale natural gas is going to surpass the $6 price for this coal, and this coal is going to be cleaner than what's been happening to our aquifers in Pennsylvania and Ohio. The potential environmental pollution up there, you all may not believe it, it's a nightmare waiting to happen. This is a much cleaner process.
And I want to thank you guys for doing your job. I want to thank EPA for looking at this problem and telling industry people, "You just can't go out and frack this stuff and not have anything happen." So, that's being addressed. It's raising the cost of the industry, the natural gas industry, trying to take that natural gas out.
But it's also making -- it's bringing the market in and it making it more expensive for them, and it's going to -- that price is going to go up. This panacea of cheap natural gas is not going to last, folks.
THE HEARING OFFICER: Is there anyone else who would like to speak tonight?
MR. OBERMEIER: I would like to address briefly the comments that he made.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Speak louder.
MR. HIGGINBOTHAM: Come up to the microphone.
THE HEARING OFFICER: If you could give us your name.
MR. OBERMEIER: Steve Obermeier. I live -- my house is just about a mile from here.
I would like to address briefly this matter about the availability of natural gas. I've just read in the last week that the Soviet Union, or Russia, I should say, has available at least eight times more natural gas than we have here, and they're not even tapping it because there's so much available and it's so inexpensive [sic] to get it that it's not worth their while.
Also, I'd like to address briefly this matter of the protection of IDEM of we here in Spencer County. I think their record's sorry by any measure. If you go look at what's happened at Barmet, it's basically a brownfield now, and I'm retired from the U.S. Geological Survey and I've been an earth specialist, and I spent a lot of time working in the field.
And when I was still active with them, some 15 or so years ago, I noticed that just down the stream from that site, all of the trees were dying, downstream -- there was a stream that went right by the site. Upstream from there, the trees were alive, but downstream they were all dying. These were big trees.
So, I called your office at Indianapolis and said, "Gee whiz, I think there might be something wrong here." The folks up there at IDEM said, "Well, we'll look into it." Well, I know for a fact that IDEM never did look into it.
And also, it was about eight years ago I was working on a stream that drains the site for AK Steel. It so happened that I was doing my job. That stream at the bottom was floating crap and crud, soot and stuff like that. That was, by the way, one of the worst water pollutants in the Ohio River. That was just here about two weeks ago.
And if you go out on a quiet morning now, and I look from my house to the west, to the smoke stack for Alcoa, there's a black streak coming right -- just like it's a line going across the sky. So, I think the record of IDEM is not good. I have zero confidence that IDEM will protect us, and I'm sorry; I think this is a big show.
That's all I've got to say.
THE HEARING OFFICER: Thank you.
MR. KAMUF: My name's James Lacy Kamuf again, and I would like to respond to the gentleman -- we've gotten off topic of water that's polluted, but it is an environmental issue, about solar and whether it's going to replace coal if we don't burn coal. And I think it's a great point, but the Germans mandated ten percent renewable energy, and they found out they could do 28 percent. They have a latitude comparable to Alaska.
And people think that solar won't work here, but it does. It works around the world. It's 28 percent of Germany's power produced -- production right now, so it can work, and what -- it's a win-win situation. Farmers have windmills in the middle of their fields, they have solar panels. It's been a win-win situation for everybody. For us just to write that possibility off is just a waste.
And I'd like to say one other thing about coal. If it is such a great product and people really believe that -- are so certain that natural gas is going to go up in the future, why do they ask the taxpayers to fund this? There's no private -- there's no private organizations that are willing to put their money up to guarantee the natural gas.
And I do like the gentleman's point about fracking. Probably -- and there's more and more evidence that it may well be really a dangerous thing to do to our water resource and aquifer. Natural gas is much deeper than these water aquifers, but in reality, they are becoming contaminated. There's more and more evidence of that.
So, I do appreciate the gentleman's statement about the dangers of fracking, but to project that this is a clean coal technology and it's going to be cheaper, it's going to be more environmentally friendly than natural gas, is just absolutely not true.
If that CO2 -- which there's no proven form of sequestration for CO2 at this point. If this liquefied CO2 goes to Houston, it looks good on paper, but ultimately, more than likely it's going to be released into the environment. We couldn't produce anything more dirty than coal.
And for him to get up here and say that it's the cleanest form of energy production is just not true, anything that I have read, and to project that this is a form of CO2 sequestration is just flim-flam, people. It's flim-flam. They can't release it here in Spencer County, but they can go down to a pro-carbon-producing state like Texas and get away with it. So, it's convoluted. It's nothing more than that.
THE HEARING OFFICER: Anyone -- do you want to speak now?
MR. JAMES: My name is Greg James.
First off, I'd like to apologize to all of you, to our mayor, Councilman Yearby, to Tom Utter. People are making this very personal and calling people names. I think you guys got insulted three or four times this evening.
As a resident of Rockport, I apologize for the people who insult you guys for doing your job, and that is your job. You're getting paid to do it, and you're doing it the best you can do. It shouldn't be personal against you, because you're not insulting them.
Secondly, the permit, I think you all are doing the right thing.
Thirdly, if the people that are leaving are really concerned about their ground water right here and their drinking water, they should look next door to Saline County, Illinois and Posey County, Indiana, because hydraulic fracturing is here. They're pulling out of Pennsylvania, they're coming here.
THE HEARING OFFICER: Is there anyone else that would like to speak tonight?
THE HEARING OFFICER: Before concluding the public hearing on the proposed permit, I would like to remind you that written comments must be received no later than July 16th, 2012. Also, anyone wishing to receive notice of the Commissioner's final determination and the response to comments should sign the sheet provided at the registration table.
This hearing on the draft permit for the Indiana Gasification, LLC is now concluded.
Thank you all for coming.
Thereupon, the proceedings of July 10, 2012 were concluded at 7:53 o'clock p.m. CDT
I, Lindy L. Meyer, Jr., the undersigned Court Reporter and Notary Public residing in the City of Shelbyville, Shelby County, Indiana, do hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and correct transcript of the proceedings taken by me on Tuesday, July 10, 2012 in this matter and transcribed by me.
Lindy L. Meyer, Jr., Notary Public in and for the State of Indiana.
My Commission expires October 27, 2016.