Finally, the ill-fated trash-to-ethanol plan has been abandoned.
The Lake County Solid Waste Management District Board voted unanimously Thursday to cancel the contract with developer Earl Powers after nothing but delays developed in nearly four and a half years since the contract was signed in November 2008.
Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub, who was once the trash-to-ethanol project's biggest supporter, made the motion to cancel the contract.
That ends the headache of waiting for Powers to get funding for the plant, but the problem of how to dispose of the county's household waste in an environmentally and fiscally responsible manner remains unsolved.
At the same meeting in which he finally killed the trash-to-ethanol project, Scheub mentioned he had been approached by people interested in trash-to-diesel and other ideas. Scheub's response to those people should be to listen politely, then make it clear that they will have to work directly with the Lake County Solid Waste Management District, not with him.
The board must issue a new request for proposals on ways to dispose of household waste.
The Powers experience, combined with the failed Hickory Hills landfil proposal, should prove instructive for the board.
The board must use much more caution in vetting proposals and in setting clear expectations and a timeline for progress. Not every idea is a good one, and not every good idea is feasible.
The county must not get mired in problems like the Hickory Hills landfill proposal or the Powers trash-to-ethanol flop. This time, look for a solution that is less flash and more substance.