DALE, Indiana Two Southern Indiana environmental watchdog groups have filed an appeal against the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s issue of an air permit that would allow construction of a coal-to-diesel plant in Dale, Indiana, the first of its kind in the country.
Community groups Southwestern Indiana Citizens for Quality of Life and Valley Watch worked believe the permit doesn’t provide assurance of protection from the plant’s potentially high levels of air pollution. They filed the appeal with the help of Earthjustice, a Boston-based environmental law firm.
IDEM issued the permit June 11 to Riverview Energy Corp. Riverview’s proposed plant would pulverize coal, mix it with crude oil and add hydrogen to create ultra-low-sulfur diesel.
Ultra-low-sulfur diesel reduces the amount of airborne sulfur emissions that cause smog, as opposed to regular diesel. It’s also more efficient, meaning heavy machinery could run longer on one gallon of the ultra-low-sulfur diesel than on regular diesel.
However, according to Riverview’s own air permit application, the plant would release around 2.2 million tons of carbon dioxide, 225 tons of carbon monoxide and 120 tons of sulfur dioxide annually.
The proposed site of the plant is within a mile of nursing home and within two miles of an elementary school.
“This permit is deeply flawed,” said Charles McPhedran, an attorney with Earthjustice. “Riverview Energy must not be allowed to site this dangerous project near vulnerable communities, including an elementary school and nursing home.”
Mary Hess, president of Southwestern Indiana Citizens for Quality of Life, said in a press release from Earthjustice, “This refinery would be adding to several facilities already in our community emitting toxic air pollution. We won’t let our neighborhoods become a sacrifice zone for public health.”