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West End Residents Say Methane Plant Opposition About History, Not Technology

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West Louisville residents are organizing against a proposed biodigester plant, where organic waste would be converted into methane gas. The efforts come as Louisville Metro officials — including Mayor Greg Fischer — and the energy company behind the proposal work to educate the community about the technology.

Despite the push to spread information about the project, however, west Louisville residents are getting more upset. The community backlash surrounding the proposed site in the California neighborhood isn’t about technology, or even about the biodigester itself, residents say.

It’s about something bigger: decades of problems with industrial pollution in the area.

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Another biodigester plant proposal was halted this summer, following a backlash from neighbors. But the other proposed plant remains on the table.

Indiana-based company Nature’s Methane is hoping to bring the plant to west Louisville. The company says it makes sense to put the plant in the California neighborhood because it's close to organic waste sources, such as the Heaven Hill distillery. That, they say, makes the proposed project more sustainable.

But these arguments aren’t gaining much traction in a community where residents say they're tired of having industrial plants so close to their homes.

“It’s not a fresh air community,” Yolanda Walker, a resident of the California neighborhood, said. “It’s not hard to see, if you walk around the community, it got that way due to the businesses that are in the community — the industrial type of businesses that are in the community, because at our back door we have a chemical plant.”

Carol Clark, a resident and business owner also in the California neighborhood, said the biodigester proposal is the "straw that broke the camel’s back."

“West Louisville, it seems like, is the dumping ground for everything the East End doesn’t want," she said.