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Few attend United Ethanol hearing

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
March 25, 2010
— A hearing Wednesday on proposed revisions to United Ethanol's operating permit saw sparse attendance and no public comment.

Two residents attended the meeting at City Hall, which was held by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Neither person commented on the proposed permit revisions, which blanket emissions requirements for operations and construction at the plant.


Revisions to the permit could be approved as early as April 19, DNR Air Management Engineer Don Faith said at the hearing.


Faith highlighted some proposed adjustments to United Ethanol's operating agreement. One change won't be happening, he said.


Faith said the DNR denied United Ethanol's request that fugitive dust testing be stricken from the plant's operating permit.


Workers collect dust at a chosen spot at the plant to test its concentration and composition. The testing gives environmental regulators an indication of how much dust could be leaving the plant by air.


United Ethanol sought to suspend dust testing because the plant has been in compliance with environmental regulations for a year. Faith said that isn't enough to wave dust testing at the plant.


"Our expectation in potentially reducing testing would be if they showed us over a longer haul they're making gains," Faith said.


No city officials were at Wednesday's hearing. City Administrator Todd Schmidt was on vacation, the city clerk's office said.


United Ethanol currently has no plans to further modify emissions equipment at the plant, United Ethanol President David Cramer said. He said no construction plans are pending at the plant.


Cramer said plant officials are considering plans to extract corn oil from a leftover ethanol byproduct known as wet cake. He said the product could be marketed separately for use in livestock feed and the production of biodiesel.


"There would be no air emissions from that, but it'd be up to the DNR to determine (permits) for it," Cramer said.


Cramer said Milton city officials won't be surprised to hear about the plant's plan.


"They were aware of this from day one," Cramer said.


No city officials attended the 1 p.m. hearing.


City Administrator Todd Schmidt was on vacation, the city clerk's office said.


Mayor Tom Chesmore told the Gazette he'd prefer the DNR plan public hearings at times when city officials and residents are more likely to attend.


"It's almost as if sometimes these things are scheduled for the DNR's convenience. If you work, how are you supposed to get there?" he said.


Chesmore said the city receives monthly reports from United Ethanol. The mayor said he was unaware of plans for corn oil extraction at the ethanol plant.


"As long as they're within their general operating permits, I don't have a problem with it," Chesmore said.



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