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Next CES battleground: Landfill Board

By Matt Marquardt –

MASON CITY – Creative Energy Systems’ next hurdle to make their $35 million dollar waste to energy plant happen is the North Iowa Landfill Board.

(PHOTO: Proposed location on Mason CIty’s south side for a CES waste-to-energy plant.)

There will be a presentation on pyrolysis (the name given to the process of turning trash into gas) Thursday night at the Landfill, with the board present, by a consultant.

City officials have made it clear they want to hurry the process of approving the CES project as quickly as possible, and the Landfill Board will need to play ball in order to make that happen.

Well before any information had been released to the public about the project, Mayor Eric Bookmeyer on September 27 said that he had “developed a high level of interest in seeing solutions brought to the table to usher this (CES) project through to completion.”  In January, he yanked key CES opponent Max Weaver from the Landfill Board, where he had about a 30% weighted vote, and replaced him with with Mason City At-Large City Councilman Scott Tornquist.

Tornquist wasted no time in telling the board how he expects the CES business to be conducted.

In a January 4th, 2012 email to Landfill Director Bill Rowland, Tornquist admits “I have a steep learning curve.”  He then lays out to Rowland, who has run the landfill for years, what he expects from him.

He told Rowland what the board can and cannot consider when determining to vote for or against the CES partnership with the landfill (up to 250 tons of trash that now goes to the landfill would be diverted to the new CES plant on Mason City’s south side, thus drastically altering how the landfill operates and impacting job duties of employees, and quite likely the number of people working at the landfill.)

“Specific technologies, potential emissions, etc… is outside the scope of the LNI Board EXCEPT to the extent that it may impact the incoming waste stream that LNI must deal with.”

Tornquist said a decision from the Landfill Board “cannot be delayed to the next regularly scheduled Board meeting (March).  We need to make every effort to act on the agreement in January.”

Tornquist then told Rowland to place on Thursday’s agenda an item calling for the scheduling of a special meeting of the Landfill Board on or before January 26th “with the sole purpose of the meeting to either approve or deny an agreement between LNI and CES.”

Tornquist, who now has about a 30% weighted vote on this issue, finished up by telling Rowland “I am quite firm that the LNI Board resolve this issue one way or another prior to the end of January.”

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