City officials meet with state about ethanol plant
Published: Saturday, December 2nd, 2006
City of Clovis and New Mexico Environment Department officials met privately Tuesday to discuss the permitting process for a controversial ethanol plant proposed for Curry County. Clovis resident and ethanol plant critic Frank Dottle believes it was inappropriate to hold the private meeting. “Naturally, it makes me angry,” said Dottle, who is a founding member of Citizens for Right Choice, an organization against the proposed site. “There should have been public input,” he said. Dottle lives across the street from the proposed ethanol plant site, along U.S. Highway 60/84, near Clovis city limits. Two separate sessions were held for the commissioners Tuesday to comply with the New Mexico Open Meetings Act, according to City Commissioner Robert Sandoval. Commissioners attended the sessions in sets of four to avoid a quorum, Sandoval said. Had five commissioners been present at one time, the meeting would have been open to all persons under New Mexico’s open meetings laws. NMED spokesperson Marissa Stone said the same information presented to public officials Tuesday will be presented at a public meeting later this month. “Nothing was discussed that will not be discussed with the public,” Stone said. Clovis Industrial Development Corp. Executive Director Chase Gentry, who organized the meeting, Sandoval and Stone all said it was not held in a secretive spirit. “I wanted a separate meeting. We are out there representing the people that we support. I felt like it was prudent for us to be educated,” Gentry said. “Basically, I wanted to understand the process required for (obtaining) an air permit. How are the standards developed? How does that impact the public? Are they set to protect our health?” Gentry said. Sandoval said the meeting was held to “inform commissioners so they could answer any questions their constituents asked about the environmental (permitting) process.” Six members of the CIDC, which is funded in part by the city, were also present at the sessions, Gentry said. The public NMED meeting concerning the permitting process will be held from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at Bella Vista Elementary School, 2900 Cesar Chavez St. in Clovis. Clovis Ethanol has applied for an NMED air quality permit to operate the proposed ethanol plant. The plant would produce 110 million gallons of ethanol annually and emit air pollutants that some citizens fear would be harmful to their health. Pollutants would not exceed federal standards set for health, according to Clovis Ethanol, officials. A series of public meetings concerning the plant have already been held in Clovis. Another NMED public meeting will be held before NMED decides whether to issue the permit, according to NMED officials. CIDC supports Clovis Ethanol and Gentry, who worked to bring Clovis Ethanol to the area, is confident as long as the plant abides by NMED regulations it won’t pose a threat to public health. Once the air quality permit is approved, construction can begin on the plant, according to plant officials. Construction will take approximately a year.
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