This series began over a year ago, after some officials first proposed a digester energy project over two and a half years ago. It’s worth a quick summary of where that project now stands, and the context of writing about the project.
I’d say that there have been, so far, three phases to this proposal. In the first, Whitewater considered a project of indeterminate but possibly large size, in the second Whitewater considered an initially smaller project that would be publicly run, and now in the third Whitewater is seeking proposals through a third-party consultant for a privately-constructed waste receiving station at its public waste treatment plant.
All three proposals have in common that they involve, in uncertain (but I think possibly large) amounts, the importation of waste into Whitewater.
It’s that importation of waste from outside the city that forms the core of my interest, and opposition, to the project. A project that recycled only locally-produced waste would be quantitatively & qualitatively different: it would not burden Whitewater and her ecosystem with wastes produced elsewhere. No one (to my knowledge) is suggesting that Whitewater shouldn’t process waste; the argument in opposition to the project is that she shouldn’t process in small-town Whitewater waste from others outside the city.
(The argument in favor of importation says that Whitewater would have revenue gain. I’m dubious of the revenue gain but even more so opposed to waste importation as the price of any claimed gain.)
In any event, there’s no current project under construction (as I thought by now there would be). This means that for the moment, there’s no ongoing importation program to evaluate or to weigh against claims made for importation.
That leaves time for another line of inquiry: what’s the context of one small town’s possible project. That context is found in the efforts of others, in Wisconsin and elsewhere, to protect their local ecosystems from environmental burdens and harm, and to preserve their communities’ reputations and property values. That’s an ongoing matter for many communities in Wisconsin and beyond.
These communities are facing different challenges, not confined to waste digesters, but often involving waste, or other environmental hazards. I’ve been writing about some of those communities’ experiences, and I will share more accounts from elsewhere. There are important similarities between how communities address risks, even if there are differences between the particular risks they face.
I’ll continue writing more ahead about those communities and their experiences.