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Landfill director: ERS agreement would be detrimental to LNI

by Matt Marquardt –

MASON CITY – North Iowa Landfill Director Bill Rowland is not supporting an agreement between the landfill and Energy Recovery Specialists (ERS), a company from Colorado that wants to build a $35 million dollar waste to energy plant in Mason City.

In a letter to North Iowa Landfill Board members, Rowland (pictured with LNI attorney James Locher) touches on the success the landfill has had in becoming a “premier facility” and said that it is “critical” that each community weighs in on a vote on the contract which will take place Thursday evening. “At no time in recent history has the LNI Board been asked to make a decision of this magnitude and potential economic risk,” Rowland wrote.

At a landfill board meeting in January, a consulting company, Foth Infrastructure, questioned the viability of the ERS plant. At that same meeting, newly-appointed board member Scott Tornquist of Mason City urged the LNI Board to move forward and make a deal with ERS as quickly as possible, despite the fact that there was no contract that had been negotiated between ERS and the landfill.  Watch video of Tornquist addressing the LNI Board in January:


Many board members were not buying what Tornquist was selling, based on comments that were made.

One board member said “we just got this.” Another said “you can’t even buy a house in two weeks.” Another said “I just feel like this is being shoved down our throats.” LNI attorney James Locher said “I would prefer to have several months for something of this magnitude. There will be considerable backing and forthing on this… that’s a difficult thing.”

Just this evening, Hampton’s Mayor Shawn Dietz, who represents Hampton on the LNI Board, seemed to indicate he agreed more with the Foth report than Tornquist.  “To say this proposed facility and proposal ‘doesn’t pass the sniff test’ is putting it mildly,” he said.  Dietz also said “there is something that doesn’t add up, and it would not be in the best interest of any of the smaller communities from a financial standpoint to vote in favor of such an agreement.”

Since the last landfill board meeting, the landfill’s attorney, James Locher, has been working with ERS’s attorney Jacqueline Aurthur on a contract that would bind the landfill to ERS for at least a decade. That contract, again, is set to be voted on Thursday night.

Whether or not any LNI board members have even seen this contract is not known.

ERS claims they will bring over 50 jobs to Mason City.  Their project has been dogged every step of the way by citizens who say the plant will have unsafe emissions and will be located too close to schools and the Newman Daycare, just 1.5 miles away.

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