This story has everything: clean energy that isn’t, shameless use of the race card and a mainstream media that ignores it all.
Last year the Green Bay City Council approved a permit for a "waste-to-energy" recycling plant proposed by Oneida Seven Generations (OSG), an entity which has ties to the Oneida tribe. The $20 million "gasification plant" was sold as your standard green energy miracle: garbage is converted to usable energy by a process that isn’t incineration and has no smokestacks. Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt, who is obsessed with turning his city into a Midwestern environmental mecca, embraced a facility that other nearby communities rejected.
Proving that fools do rush in, the Green Bay City Council approved the appropriate permits. Residents in the targeted West-side neighborhood immediately began discovering things a lax council missed. Most notable was that renderings of the proposed facility now had emission pipes on the roof where earlier versions didn’t. Residents organized opposition and urged officials to rescind the permits because they had been deceived. OSG CEO Kevin Cornelius sensed an ulterior motive:
"…it is noteworthy that they have only targeted our development as an incinerator, which we are not; yet when there are actual incinerators proposed for this area they do not object. We can only speculate on their true motives in going after an Oneida business project…"
A race card dog whistle if ever you’ve heard one. During one city meeting someone actually screamed "racism." Tribal officials said that person was not associated with them. Last fall residents won. The City Council, now convinced it had been deceived, rescinded the permit. OSG sued. Tribal Chairman Ed Delgado defended:
"The studies have all shown this is clean technology," Delgado said. "The only chance we can get this done is through litigation or to reconsider."
And the Oneida did take the city to court. Brown County Judge Marc Hammer ruled against OSG, saying it had, in fact, misrepresented the project. Hammer pointed to, among other things, the mysteriously appearing smokestacks.
So, OSG announced it would do what many wondered why it hadn’t done in the first place; site the facility on tribal owned land (the new proposal is somewhat different from the original; only plastics would be recycled). The proposed site is now in Outagamie County. Ah, but again there are those with environmental concerns about the project. Who you ask?
The Oneida tribe of Indians.
But, wait, it gets even better than that.
Remember Oneida Tribal Chairman Ed Delgado defending the project above? Here’s what he and other tribal members are saying now, according to Gannett Media:
Tribal Chairman Ed Delgado said he worries about the environmental effects that such an industrial operation would have on areas of the Oneida reservation that Delgado described as "pristine."
Referring to the recycling plan, Delgado added. "I’m not saying I’m against it. I have questions about it."
Yvonne Metivier, a tribal elder who lives in nearby Hobart, said she worries about harming the environment. "This is another money pit," she said. "It’s just unthinkable this would be called progress."
Clearly there is an ulterior motive here, right?
The Oneida Tribe simply doesn’t want the project because…it’s an tribal business project?
Jerry Bader is a regionally syndicated conservative talk show host in northern Wisconsin. You can find more from Jerry at jerrybadershow.com