HEALTY DUBOIS COUNTY’S RESPONSE TO UTILITY BOARD VOTE MONDAY NIGHT

(FROM DR. KREILEIN SINCE BELOW RESPONSE WAS SENT TO LOCAL MEDIA)

Typo Correction:

The explosions mentioned occurred in the past four months, one in April in Minnesota and the other in May near Sacramento CA. I apologize for any distress this might have caused anyone.

Norma

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For Immediate Release:

1. HDC’s actions and message have always been consistent with the primary motives to promote government transparency, to fully inform the public, and to protect the health of area residents, not only Jasper citizens.  Local media, such as the Herald, have consistently omitted critical aspects of the plant’s risk:  for the local and national government supporting it financially, the farmers at risk for growing such an expensive crop, and the inescapable harm to the public from ultrafine particulates added to the current burden of pollution from other sources.  From August through December of 2011, HDC was denied discovery, amendment, and continuance; the City of Jasper’s legal arguments and the trial judge’s conclusions in the first trial were found to be categorically inappropriate and illegal by the Indiana Court of Appeals.  Those tactics continue in this trial as HDC still has not received a single e-mail or meeting notes despite Mr. Kaiser assuring publicly in November of 2012 that the city was going to cooperate with discovery and prepare for trial.  Nine months later city officials continue to use the legal system to stall discovery and mount legal costs for which they in turn blame HDC.  The unprecedented Court of Appeals decision, including their statement that Jasper “thwarted” discovery requests for months, has not resulted in significant cooperation in the new trial proceedings.  Rather than cooperate, city officials voted to pay their lawyers to pursue all means to sue us when there has never been a restraining order preventing them from proceeding.  At tonight’s meeting, Mr. Schuetter admitted that the lawsuit did not hold back the project, yet seven minutes later complained that the lawsuit kept the city from receiving sizable lease payments and prevented necessary partners from coming forward. The city itself voted to defer the lease payments, which was wasteful and ill-advised if the lawsuit was truly as frivolous as the city has claimed.  Rather than being concerned about Dr. Shrader-Frechette’s conservative prediction of 40 deaths per year from the ultrafines alone compared to two deaths per year from burning coal, city officials not only met privately in another “volunteer session” to draft a response, but were academically unqualified to refute her.  HDC received a substantial grant from the Indiana Utility Ratepayers Trust simply by outlining our consistent attempt at civic advocacy and providing public documents such as the Indiana Court of Appeals decision and Jasper USB minutes detailing the magnitude of citizen concern dismissed by Jasper officials.  Beyond the Jasper city limits, the Indiana Court of Appeals, the IURPT and Dr. Shrader-Frechette do find the behavior and decisions made by the City of Jasper indefensible.  The City of Jasper needs to divulge to the ratepayers the cost of maintaining the power plant as well as the costs of litigation, which would have been dismissed had it been frivolous, meritless, groundless, baseless, or vexatious.
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It has, however, appeared obvious to HDC that the biomass plant seems to be burning itself out as two years have passed without a power purchase agreement.  IMPA rejected the plant’s viability for standby use, and no one is committing long term to buy expensive, high-risk, inefficient, polluting biomass-generated electricity in the current market.  According to his repeatedly published timeline, Jay Catasein will not approach farmers until after such a long-term power purchase agreement is finalized.  Nonetheless, Mr. Schuetter conveniently faults HDC for these farmers not “coming forward” to invest thousands per acre to grow miscanthus in a risky, unconfirmed market.  While Jasper officials have been blaming HDC and its Open Door Lawsuit for their ills, perhaps potential partners and purchasers realize the liability and risky business plan that Jasper refuses to acknowledge.  While government transparency is still a critical issue, as informed, educated citizens, we firmly stand by our allegations and find that although our treatment by city officials was demeaning and deplorable, the necessity of the lawsuit specifically to oppose the biomass plant appears to be lessening.  We offered a settlement because it was the right thing to do, just as opposing the plant and filing the lawsuit were and are the right thing to do.  We are waiting for Jasper officials to represent all citizens, not just their own interests.

2. We look forward to a solution that will benefit citizens and hope that this is possible; it remains to be seen whether the established pattern of “volunteer group” unnoticed meetings and blatantly ignoring scientifically documented concerns changes.  Our group represents educated and concerned citizens that have been validated by the scientific community, the Indiana Court of Appeals, and the Indiana Utility Ratepayers Trust.  City officials, particularly Mr. Schuetter, have to date deliberately avoided effective, respectful dialogue, choosing to have citizens believe that such a “pillar of death” in the community, as described by Dr. Avery in his recent letter to the editor, is not only necessary but beneficial.  We have heard from countless individuals both inside and outside of Jasper who urge us to continue our mission.  Their voices and concerns matter; we speak on their behalf, and we will be heard, whether it is in a negotiating session or other continued efforts at advocacy.  We fear for the City’s–and its citizen taxpayers’–future liability for deliberately exposing persons to new emissions with such blatant knowledge about not only the harm of emissions, but the risk of explosion and fire such as occurred in the past two months in Amador County, CA, and Shakopee, MN, or financial collapse like Harrisburg, PA.  We seek dialogue with officials that were elected to represent us and question why an unelected utility official continues to hold such unquestioned authority over a public health issue.

3.  I would suggest obtaining the letter from the city as an Access to Public Records request.  Because they brought it up in public as opposed to an executive session, it should be a matter of public record.  Maybe you will have more success than we have had in obtaining relevant public records.

Respectfully,

Norma Schue Kreilein, MD, FAAP
President, Healthy Dubois County
on behalf of its Board of Directors

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