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Biofuel Company Moves Forward With West Louisville Outreach Plans, But Concerns Linger

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An Indiana-based biofuel company has been trying to warm West Louisville residents to a proposed plant in the area that would turn food waste into methane gas.

But Metro Councilwoman Jessica Green, a Democrat representing several West Louisville neighborhoods, said she doubts these outreach efforts will improve residents' opinions of the project.

Nature’s Methane, which has plans to build biodigester plants near the Heaven Hill distillery in the California neighborhood, is working with city officials to spread information to community members about the technology and benefits of turning the distillery's corn mash waste — and other organic materials — into methane gas.

Attorney Brian Zoeller, who represents Nature’s Methane, said company officials are holding various events from now until the time they feel ready to go before a local zoning board. That may be at least a couple months from now; he said the company won’t be on the agenda at the next board meeting in October.

“We are going to continue the outreach to the leaders in the community and folks who want to learn more about the facts of the project,” Zoeller said.

But Green said residents' issues with the project are “about something bigger than” understanding the technology. She said the location remains the biggest problem.

“I am not necessarily opposed to the technology, but I am opposed to it coming to West Louisville because of the historical framework that we find ourselves in,” Green said.

Even with Nature's Methane's outreach, Green said residents of the struggling area are unlikely to support an unfamiliar technology. The neighborhood is also uninterested in having more food waste trucked into the area, she said.

But a location for the plant near the distillery would reduce truck traffic and emissions, because the company could move the waste through an underground pipeline, Zoeller said.

At present, about 30 trucks a day move waste from the distillery. The rest of the waste gets pumped through the sewer system, Zoeller said.

“I frankly am not persuaded by a company’s convenience,” Green said. “I am more persuaded by the inconvenience of the residents.”

Nature's Methane originally had plans for two biodigester sites in West Louisville. The company was also set to partner with the West Louisville FoodPort in Russell. But FoodPort developer Seed Capital Kentucky removed the biodigester from its plan following a community outcry.

Company officials held several meetings with residents. Each meeting featured significant resistance from the local community.

Mayor Greg Fischer’s office is currently planning a visit from the EPA to provide more information to residents on biodigesters.