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Wilson College to host ethanol education forum Monday night

David Morris and Tadeusz Patzek will present the pros and cons of the alternative fuel.

David Morris and Tadeusz Patzek will present the pros and cons of the alternative fuel.

January 28, 2006|By DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. -

Penn-Mar Ethanol and Citizens for a Quality Environment have been battling in the courts over a proposed ethanol plant in Franklin County, but the debate over the pros and cons of the alternative fuel will move to a college campus Monday night.

Wilson College will host a two-hour educational forum on economic and environmental consequences of ethanol beginning at 6 p.m. in Thomson Hall.

David Morris, vice president of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in Minneapolis, will discuss the benefits of ethanol and Tadeusz Patzek of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of California, Berkeley, will talk about the downside of the alternative fuel.

After Morris and Patzek make their presentations, they will field questions from the audience.

"Producing fuel ethanol from corn produces problems on the East Coast that it does not necessarily pose in the Midwest," said DeEtta Antoun, director of Citizens for a Quality Environment. "This is a unique opportunity for people in south central Pennsylvania to hear somebody with Dr. Patzek's credentials."

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"It's going to be an opportunity for people to hear some of the broader issues about ethanol - what the true benefits are, some of the facts about energy balance, and why ethanol is a good idea," said Scott Welsh, project manager for Penn-Mar Ethanol. One of the questions about ethanol production debated by experts is whether production of the fuel consumes more energy than it produces.

"It's not a debate about our project," Welsh said of Penn-Mar's proposal to build an $80 million facility at the Cumberland Valley Business Park near Letterkenny Army Depot to make up to 60 million gallons of ethanol per year from 20 million bushels of corn.

Penn-Mar and the Letterkenny Industrial Development Authority in February 2005 announced an agreement had been reached to sell the York, Pa.-based partnership land on which to build the plant. The Greene Township Zoning Hearing Board last spring decided that the facility is a permitted use in a heavy industrial zone and granted it a variance from the township's 45-foot height limitation.

That was challenged in the Court of Common Pleas and Judge Richard J. Walsh in November issued a ruling that the zoning board erred in granting the variance and deciding that the plant would be a permitted use.

In December, Penn-Mar Ethanol appealed Walsh's ruling to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court.

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