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WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Citizens raise legitimate concerns about ethanol

A half century ago, Tusca-loosa was best known for three things: The University of Alabama, Bryce Hospital for the mentally ill, and the awful smell from a paper mill.

U of A students' noses acclimated to the stench, but the process repeated itself each time they spent a few days away. The smell, while apparently not harmful, cut deeply into the quality of life in Tuscaloosa and its image.

The possibility of foul smells if an ethanol plant locates in Morgan County along the Tennessee River concerns some citizens here. A majority of City Council members said after a public hearing Monday night that they oppose such a plant locating here.

That's a bit premature. Let's at least wait until the Morgan County Economic Development Association knows the preliminary facts before writing off these industries. They may be as bad as concerned citizens suggest they are, and if so, the pending report from an environmental engineer should be pivotal in the outcome.

Certainly, such a plant would add to the diversity of area industry, be a nearby market for locally grown corn, increase port activity and create a certain number of jobs.

The distillation of ethanol is a growth industry and is one of the transition solutions to the nation's growing gasoline shortage. It will be around for awhile.

Citizens are raising legitimate questions and concerns about the possibility of a plant coming here. The vast majority of area residents don't want a plant that pollutes the air and water or emits toxic chemicals.

So, let's wait and see instead of rushing to judgment.

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