PRESTON, Minn. (Jan. 27)—After a contentious seven-hour meeting, the Citizen Board of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency ordered a new environmental impact statement on the proposed Heartland Energy & Recycling tire-derived fuel electric plant in Preston.
Testing and protocols for the statement will take anywhere from nine months to two years, postponing the Heartland project—which has been in abeyance since April 2004—at least that much longer, according to an MPCA spokeswoman.
The Heartland facility, which began construction in January 2004, would provide 23 megawatts of electricity to Preston and outlying communities, fueled solely by 10 million scrap tires annually. But a activist group, Southeastern Minnesotans for Environmental Protection, claims the plant would emit two tons of toxic pollutants per day, including mercury, lead, arsenic and PCBs.
"Two years ago the same Citizen Board told us we didn't need to perform an environmental impact statement," said Bob Maust, president of Heartland. "But now our opponents convinced them they had to demand one. They're hoping to make us go away."
Maust also said that although the MPCA will issue bids and award contracts for the statement, Heartland will pay for it; he estimated the cost at around $350,000. E. Frances Sauer, president of the activist group, could not be reached immediately for comment.