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Ethical behavior

for doing 

is doing the right thing when no one else is watching - even when doing the wrong thing is legal.

- ALDO LEOPOLD

Many rural communities all over the country are currently facing the same situation as the Town of Lind: digester proposals are being quickly pushed through without allowing neighbors to learn the public health and environmental risks of these technologies and biogas production.

Proponents of digesters typically use the same talking points. A group of local residents with the help of national resources have put together a comprehensive guide that covers some of the most common digester myths and pair them with research that challenges those points.

 

The Town of Lind Board's recommendation to the County Board is to DENY this proposal (conclusion of Feb 28th meeting).
However, this proposal is still going to be brought to the County  Planning & Zoning Commission as well as the Waupaca County Board.

Please follow our Facebook Group: 
"Citizens Protecting Rural Waupaca"

for updates
additional hearing dates.

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OUR COLLECTIVE NATURAL RESOURCES ARE AT RISK:

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Our Groundwater.

According to the application submitted by the proponent farm to the Wisconsin DNR, they expect to discard an average of
41,000 gallons of industrial wastewater per day 
into the "unnamed trubutary" which is the Walla Walla Creek.

This cold water creek runs through the Town of Lind and is currently classified as a Class 2 Trout Stream. The industrial wastewater could be up to 104 degrees in temperature.

 

MYTH: "Digesters prevent surface water and groundwater pollution caused by agricultural run-off."

THE REALITY: Scientists emphasize the importance of responsible manure management for digestate which is severely lacking on Wisconsin farms due to little to no oversight from the DNR & EPA

 

  • In Wisconsin, more than 1,500 miles of streams and rivers, and 33 lakes, in the nine counties assessed have impaired waters due overwhelmingly to combined pollution from manure and commercial fertilizer.

  • Reckless management of digestate can have serious consequences in terms of environmental tradeoffs: “...if improperly applied, digestate can harm plant growth and the soil (Rigby and Smith, 2013), and due to its chemical composition, it can lead to problems for its sustainable disposal. For example, early application of digestate and its longer retention time in the soil without usage by crops might cause the loss of nutrients and their translocation towards deeper soil layers or NO3 emissions into groundwater (Formowitz and Fritz, 2010).

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ABOUT GROUNDWATER IMPACTS

EVEN IF THEY HAVE PERMITS, THERE ARE NO REQUIREMENTS IN PLACE TO TEST OUR GROUNDWATER REGULARLY.

OUR AIR QUALITY.

MYTH (Partial): “Digesters reduce methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.”
 

REALITY: Digesters are a “trade-off” because they increase greenhouse and other hazardous gasses during the biogas production process. 
 

  • Ammonia: According to the University of Wisconsin, “Digestion often shifts the form of the nitrogen to more ammonium. When digested manure is field applied, much of the ammonium will be released as a gas (ammonia) unless it is incorporated into the soil.” 

    Holly et al. (2017) found in their study of digestate in Wisconsin that in storage, ammonia emissions increased 81%. In other words, digesters have found a way to reduce methane, but at the same time, they have begun producing higher levels of ammonia which is worse for human health.
    Read more about health impacts of ammonia HERE.

     

  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): VOCs are gasses that are emitted into the air typically from industrial products or processes

    • When Zheng et al. (2019) studied the VOCs released from digestate during storage, they detected 49 different types of VOCs. Almost a third (32.77%) of the VOCs emitted from digestate were hazardous to human health: 8 of the compounds were carcinogenic and 14 were known to cause organ damage in humans.
       

  • Nitrous Oxide (N₂O)- Nitrous oxide is a climate super pollutant that has 300x more global warming potential than carbon dioxide. Methane stays in the atmosphere for about 12 years while nitrous oxide stays in the atmosphere for at least 100 years.

    CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ABOUT AIR QUALITY IMPACTS

EVEN THOUGH DIGESTERS LESSEN METHANE EMISSIONS, DIGESTERS INCREASE
AMMONIA, VOCs, AND NITROUS OXIDE.

ACCORDING TO THE AIR PERMIT APPLICATION, THE CO-DIGESTER IS ALLOWED TO "FLARE OFF" DURING START UP, DURING PROCESS UPSET, AND WHENEVER THE GAS CAN'T BE INJECTED INTO THE PIPELINE FOR A MAXIMUM OF 
8760 HOURS PER YEAR....


THAT IS EQUIVALENT TO 365 DAYS, 24/7

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What is "organic 
waste"

in the eyes of digester proponents?

  • Agricultural waste (manure, bedding, etc)

  • Animal bi-product (blood, feathers, meat scraps, etc.)

  • Fats, oils, and grease

  • Packaged food waste

  • "PHARMACEUTICAL & HUMAN WASTE" - according to John Hanselman, Founder of Vanguard Renewables, who is proposing the Lind Co-Digester. (see clip below)

     

OUR
rural character.

MYTH: “Digesters completely eliminate odors from animal manure.”

 

REALITY: Digesters have had the most success controlling odors in highly controlled conditions. In the real world, there are many examples of digesters failing to control odors. 

BIOGAS CO-DIGESTER DESCRIBED BY NEIGHBORS
AS "PUTRID" 365 DAYS/YEAR

Blackrock & Vanguard

What do the two largest asset managers
in the world want with our small town?

  • The digester and biogas industry is largely being driven by government programs and subsidies on the state and federal levels. 
     

  • The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provided over $2 billion for USDA’s Rural Energy for America (REAP) program to promote rural or agriculture-related renewable energy

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