Ethanol Plant Debate

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A construction zone off State Highway 170 in the Dunn County Town of Hay River doesn't look like much, but the co-op building there is banking on the County Board to let them put up an ethanol plant within a year or so, the next of the 80-some plants in america.

"Most of them have been good neighbors," said Co-Op President Paul Harrison.

The Concerned Citizens of Dunn County aren't buying that.

"You want an ethanol plant? Fine. Go put it somewhere else," said Stewart Best.

They're afraid of the damage it could do to an incoming airplane, as they say it would blow smoke in it's path, and create a combustible element in the case of a crash.

"They have fires they have explosions, they kill people," said Best

Opponents also say the rest of the county would suffer through pollution of an aquifer located right beneath the proposed building site.

The President of the co-op that's building near Boyceville says they've already considered the potential health hazards.

"There are safeguards in place, we have to have permits from the DNR regulating a number of our activities there."

That doesn't cover the realm of possibilities, says the Concerned Citizens group, whose members say they'll take the matter to court if they don't get their way on Wednesday.

In that case, the co-op president won't sweat it.

"If they allow us to be zoned Industrial there, we're good to go. There isn't any legal recourse from there."

Only a precident opponents call dangerous, as any Industrial Zone could put up another ethanol plant without answering to county leaders.

"If you abdicate your ability to control, how are you protecting the interests of the people? You're not," Best said.

A theory the board will likely consider before they determine the fate of a Boyceville-area plant, and other proposed plants that could follow.