Group recognized for environmental advocacy

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By Herald Staff

Southwestern Indiana Citizens for Quality of Life recently received The Mal Atherton Award from the Hoosier Environmental Council for the group's efforts to stop a proposed coal-to-diesel plant from coming to Dale.

The award was part of the council's GTS Awards that were given at the council's virtual Greening the Statehouse conference. The awards recognize "exemplary grassroots leaders and grassroots organizations from across Indiana."

"We are proud to be one of the many grassroots organizations in Indiana standing up and fighting for stricter environmental rules and holding IDEM (the Indiana Department of Environmental Management) accountable, so that they will regulate in a manner to protect Hoosiers and the environment," said Mary Hess, president of Southwestern Indiana Citizens for Quality of Life.

Riverview Energy announced in early 2018 plans to build a $2.5 billion coal-to-diesel plant in Dale that would be the first direct coal-hydrogenation project in the U.S. The process, Riverview has said, would make ultra-low diesel fuel, but would not burn or gasify coal. The plant would use 1.6 million tons of coal to produce 4.8 million barrels of clean diesel and 2.5 million barrels of Naphtha each year.

Southwestern Indiana Citizens for Quality quickly formed opposing the project, concerned about potentially “dangerous air pollution,” among other things. Valley Watch, an organization created to “protect the public health and environment of the lower Ohio Valley,” also joined the charge.

Southwestern Indiana Citizens for Quality of Life has hosted multiple public forums featuring scientists, medical doctors and informed residents. Their advocacy includes door-to-door visits, a website, letters to the editor, social media, lobbying in Washington. D.C., and Indianapolis, participation in local parades and festivals, distributing lawn signs and more. They are using science, education, and now litigation to stop the refinery from going forward. With the support of Earthjustice, the citizens are challenging in court IDEM's approval and extension of Riverview's air quality permit.


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