BUTTONWILLOW, CA -- More than 100 people turned out Tuesday night, armed with information and hard questions regarding the hydrogen energy plant proposed for the Tupman area in western Kern County.
The public hearing in Buttonwillow, the second of three hearings this week on issues surrounding the HECA facility.
The plant is designed to convert coal from New Mexico into electricity and fertilizer.
"We shouldn't be shipping in new coal,” said Andrea Issod a lawyer for the Sierra Club. “We should be ramping up clean energy sources and Kern County is already a great leader in wind and solar."
Proponents say the plant will bring 2,000 jobs to Kern County and a major boost to the economy.
"We are looking at being able to bring in and deliver hundreds of millions dollars every year to benefit Kern County and that is from a combination of increased property tax, sales tax, economic creation in general,” said Tiffany Rau from Hydrogen Energy California.
What troubles some residents is at what cost will those jobs come. There is widespread concern over harmful emissions the plant may generate, even though the Valley Air District has already awarded HECA a permit to operate. The Sierra Club is challenging that permit, saying the air district violated its own rules.
"Main concern is that they are purported to offset the air emissions from the HECA project with emissions reduction credits that are 30 years old, " said Issod.
HECA disagrees. "Whole premise is to be an alternative energy plant that is good for Kern County and that reduces greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation."
If you were unable to attend Tuesday’s hearing a similar one will be held Wednesday night at 6 at the Buttonwillow Recreational facility at 556 Milo Drive.
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