Josh DeHaan
Louisville Alternative Energy writing assignment
Anaerobic Digester in Downtown Louisville
The nonprofit organization Seed Capital Kentucky has recently decided to cancel the development of a methane plant that was to be added to their West Louisville FoodPort project after they received numerous complaints about it from the surrounding residents of the project site. Complaints from local residents regarding the project included increased traffic, foul odor, and potential safety and health concerns. The methane plant was proposed to be developed at 30th Street, between Main Street and Muhammed Ali Boulevard which is a busy part of downtown. Residents from this area have a history of feeling as though they have been treated unfairly and that they are “guinea pigs” (Bowling) so it’s no surprise that they have reacted the way that they did. I believe that they have reacted rightfully so.
There are quite a few harmful effects that come with creating a methane plant. Anaerobic digesters are what create methane in methane plants, and they do this by taking “organic waste such as food and wood chips and turning it into methane gas” (Bowling). The process of converting organic waste into methane gas is not an easy one, nor is it an environmentally friendly one. Considering the project site was to be downtown in a populated area, criticism over the project was inevitable. Residents feared that prolonged exposure to the chemicals and toxins that the plant would have potentially output would have caused illness and health problems. While the project was active, residents complained of a drastic increase in the amount of traffic and odor in the area. Also, the real estate value of homes in an already mediocre area of town went a lot farther down. There was also the possibility of a malfunction in the in the digester that would cause an explosion. Considering the location in which the project was intended to happen, it is no wonder that it was cancelled.
There is no point in creating something that only does harm, meaning there were things about the methane plant that would have been potentially beneficial. Methane gas is the main component in natural gas. When methane is burned, it can be used to create electricity, provide heating, or even power a garbage truck. Methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas and when it escapes into the atmosphere, it traps heat which leads to global warming. In fact, “one pound of methane traps 25 times more heat in the atmosphere than a pound of carbon dioxide” (US EPA). Capturing methane in places
like methane plants and landfills prevents excess methane from getting into the atmosphere and causing damage to the ozone layer, which in turn helps prevent global warming.
In my opinion, cancelling the development of the methane plant in downtown Louisville was a good idea by Seed Capital Kentucky. The negative effects of a methane plant in that location outweighed the positive effects. Had the location of the plant been in a more secluded area of the city of Louisville, then I may have been supportive of the project. I believe this because in regular circumstances, I believe that methane plants do more good than harm because of the energy that they save and the protection that they give against the dangers of global warming because of their recycling of methane gas. However, because of the location of that specific methane plant, there was more harm than good being done. Mary Woolridge said in regard of the methane plant’s construction, “I am the biggest cheerleader for economic development, especially when it comes to west Louisville. I’m the biggest cheerleader, but not when it comes to this type of development” (Woolridge). The complaints that were being received from residents of the area about traffic, odor, health, and safety were just too many and cancellation of the project was in the best interest of most everyone.
Works Cited
Bowling, Caitlin. "West Louisville Residents 'don't Want to Be Guinea Pigs' for Proposed Alternative Energy Project." Insider Louisville. N.p., 7 Aug. 2015. Web. 2 Nov. 2015.
"Methane Capture and Use | A Student's Guide to Global Climate Change | US EPA." US Environmental Protection Agency. N.p., 20 Aug. 2015. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.
Woolridge, Mary. "Company Drops Plans to Build Methane Plant Near Proposed Food Hu - WDRB 41 Louisville News." Home - WDRB 41 Louisville News. N.p., 13 Aug. 2015. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.