WILLIAM NANGLE: No more flim flam

2013-03-31T00:00:00Z WILLIAM NANGLE: No more flim flam nwitimes.com
March 31, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Well, I figured if I waited long enough the worm would turn.

The proposed trash-to-ethanol boondoggle slated for development near Schneider has apparently reached an end.

A combine of region contractors has bowed out of building the estimated $300 million facility.

That was the idea after Earl Powers, the seeming snake oil salesman from Evansville, quickly and quietly exited after his so-called plan came unraveled.

Of course, it’s only taken some five years to come to this conclusion.

The Lake County Solid Waste Management District Board has steadfastly held its hope the ill-proven trash-to-ethanol idea would succeed and save millions in trash disposal.

Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub, a member of the waste board, has been the biggest political booster of the failed idea.

Even he recently said, “This whole thing has disappointed me tremendously. I trusted (Powers Energy) that they would do this, and I think we were used.”

Some surprise. For years there has been a steadfast corps arguing the trash-to-ethanol plan was a fantasy.

Times Investigative Editor Marc Chase, along with others, wrote often during the five years of the thin air supporting Powers’ proposal.

Time and again, often at Scheub’s prodding, the waste board extended and then extended again the time for Powers to get the project running.

Some suggest the board now fears Powers will file suit against the county for not going through with his plan. After all, it cost taxpayers $8 million when the Hickory Hills landfill boondoggle failed.

It seems to me, though, Powers will have little chance of collecting when he is obviously in breach of the contract he signed with the waste district.

And so, as the worm turns, the question is what will the waste board do next? It is charged with putting into place a countywide waste disposal system that will prove efficient and save local communities money.

Clearly, it is time for a fresh start. New ideas in an open atmosphere are needed.

Gerry and the waste makers need to be sure good public policy rather than politics leads the way in formulating a new plan.

No more snake oil salesmen with a five-year flim flam.

William Nangle is executive editor of The Times. He can be reached at The Times, 601 45th St., Munster, IN 46321 or at bill.nangle@nwi.com.

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