REGIONAL ROUNDUP - Tire-plant opponents file second suit

PRESTON -- Opponents of the tire-burning plant proposed to be built on the outskirts of Preston have filed a second lawsuit to try to stop Heartland Energy and Recycling.

The suit, filed last month in the Minnesota Court of Appeals, alleges the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, which took two actions that will allow Heartland to build, erred in not classifying the plant as a major source of pollution. Southeastern Minnesotans for Environmental Protection says the plant should be forced to have more stringent pollution-control equipment.

Opponents fear the $50 million plant, which would burn about 10 million tires per year brought to Preston from up to 500 miles away, would pollute the surrounding air, land and water. Also, they fear the area's tourism industry would be hurt by the sight of the large plant next to the ethanol plant.

The citizens group contends in its suit that the state was arbitrary and capricious in its decision to give the plant an air-quality permit and violated state law. It says the plant would use boilers fueled by fossil fuels to generate about 20 megawatts of electricity, those boilers will have heat input of more than 250 million Btu per hour and will emit more than 100 tons of pollutants per year. By that definition, the plant should be listed as a "major source under the New Source Review program."

Instead, the PCA has listed it in another category. The PCA's computer predictions indicate the plant, which will have substantial pollution-control equipment as now planned, will meet state air-quality standards.


The suit also asks that the PCA grant an opponents' request for a contested case hearing in which they would have a chance to present their case to an administrative-law judge.

The first suit was filed earlier in Fillmore District Court and aims to force the PCA to require an environmental-impact statement on Heartland. The PCA Citizen's Board, which decides which studies are needed, decided a smaller environmental assessment worksheet is sufficient.

Attorneys for both sides have more than a month to submit briefs. A motion to grant the opponent's request is scheduled for Dec. 2 in Fillmore District Court.

In a related matter, the citizens group went to the Fillmore County Board this week to ask that it become part of the first suit as an intervenor, said Kathleen Attwood, spokeswoman for the group.

The board made no decision on the matter, she said, but is considering it.

-- John Weiss

Rabenort named Prairie Island police chief

RED WING -- Rick Rabenort, who has been the Red Wing public safety director for several years, has been hired as police chief for the new Prairie Island Indian Community Police Department.


Tribal Council President Audrey Bennett said the formation of the department is part of the continuing push to become an independent community.

Rabenort will enforce both tribal and state laws. His first day as chief will be Tuesday.

-- John Weiss

Model railroad tours set for Oct. 11

SPRING VALLEY -- The Spring Valley Community Historical Society is again selling tickets for tours of Boyd Grabau's model railroad in the basement of his Spring Valley home.

Grabau has 1,200 feet of track with 900 cars in rails on several levels.

Tours will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 11. Tickets are $2, and proceeds go to the historical society; they are available at his home at 304 W. Courtland St. For more information, call the society at (507) 346-7659.

-- John Weiss


PCA sets comment periods for four facilities

The PCA is proposing to issue permits for four facilities to continue operating in the region. They are:

The comment period for a permit for Austin Utilities to operate its Northeast Electrical Generating Plant goes through Oct. 21. The PCA tentatively has decided to reissue the permit for the 30-megawatt coal-fired plant. Send comments to Terry Mader at the PCA in St. Paul.

The comment period on the expansion of an ash disposal facility near Red Wing extends from Monday through Oct. 29. Xcel Energy operates the facility on Goodhue County Road 1. Copies of the proposed permit are available at libraries in Red Wing and Rochester, PCA offices in St. Paul and Rochester as well as on the PCA Web site: Comments should be sent to Kevin Kain at the PCA office at 520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul, 55155-4194.

The comment period for allowing the Pine Island and Kenyon waste water treatment plants to continue operating goes through Oct. 21.

Comments on either plant should be sent to Jaramie Logelin at the PCA, 525 Lake Ave., Suite 400, Duluth, 55802.

Regional Roundup appears Friday in the Post-Bulletin. If you have comments or news items, call John Weiss, regional reporter, 285-7749.

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