I refer to the Letter To The Editor by Greg Merle of Riverview Energy on December 12, 2018 (“Riverview: a win-win for area”).
In his letter, Mr. Merle referred to the opposition as a ‘small group’ of “misinformed opponents’. I would like to correct his misstatements.
Perhaps Mr. Merle and I attended different meetings on December 5th. I was in attendance at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) hearing held at Heritage Hills High School on Dec. 5th, whereby 47 people spoke in opposition to his refinery, while only 7 spoke in support, with the majority of the supporters being associated with the Lincolnland Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) (the people who brought Riverview to the table). Did Mr. Merle find the statements of the area residents of enough importance to attend? Or, is he already that absentee landlord, breathing his clean air in Connecticut, while polluting the air of Southwestern Indiana? Where are the people supporting this plant, Mr. Merle? They certainly did not voice their support on December 5th.
Though he doesn’t specify, I presume the ‘small group’ Mr. Merle is referring to is Southwestern Indiana Citizens for Quality of Life (SWICQL). Our group consists of nearly 2000 people, opposed to the construction of this refinery. Contrary to popular belief, we are not a group of ‘Liberals’ as some have suggested, but actually a very balanced group of Republicans and Democrats who put politics aside and instead, work together to protect the quality of life for all people of Southwestern Indiana. We didn’t take a stance against this plant without first doing our homework. SWICQL members include men and women who hold master’s and doctorate degrees in chemical engineering. This group has voluntarily spent hundreds of hours, pouring over the permit to understand the quantities and types of toxins being dumped into our air by Mr. Merle’s project.
We also have members from the medical community providing us with educational information on the diseases caused by these toxins. Firsthand, they treat, on a daily basis, child after child bearing illnesses aligned with the toxins released by the existing super-polluters in our area. Spencer County is the 23rd most toxic county in the country, yet Mr. Merle stated in his letter that his refinery will contribute to ‘responsible environmental stewardship’. How can dumping millions of tons of toxins upon an already heavily-polluted county be considered ‘responsible’?
For Mr. Merle to diminish the brilliant work done by members of SWICQL is extremely short-sighted. We have an open invitation to Mr. Merle to speak with our group and relay the scientific facts he is utilizing to proclaim this plant is not a threat to our health. Such a meeting would surely resolve the ‘misinformation’ in our group. Instead, Mr. Merle only meets with proponents, knowing they will not question his statements.
We have also asked for the release of the list of 225 jobs promised for this refinery. Why has this not been disclosed for public review? This plant will require a high number of industry-specific engineers and as is, numerous job postings for engineers in our local communities remain unfilled. Though some will land jobs with this refinery, most jobs will not be filled by our local workforce.
As to Mr. Merle’s remark in his letter regarding the ‘independent experts’ reviewing the application, this rubber-stamped permit is yet another political-favor-deal done by a government who prefers the money from the coal industry over the health of its own citizens. Earlier this year, LEDC posted a photo of Mr. Merle and Indiana’s Governor Holcomb together at an investor’s conference in Switzerland. Indiana’s government has long been aligned with the coal industry. When the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (at the state level) is sponsored by 5 coal-fired power plants, you can understand why Indiana ranks so high (46th of 50) in toxic releases into the air we breathe.
Bluffing is an art, Mr. Merle. Science is fact. If you can, indeed, show us the facts supporting your message, we truly would love to sit and discuss where we are wrong. If not, hot-air is just another pollutant to the already-toxic air of SW Indiana.
Santa Claus, Indiana