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Wabash Valley Resources presents community benefits plans to Vigo, Vermillion counties

Greg Zoeller, vice president of external affairs for Wabash Valley Resources, answers questions at a public meeting at Fayette Elementary School in West Terre Haute in August.
Rebecca Thiele
/
IPB News
Greg Zoeller, vice president of external affairs for Wabash Valley Resources, answers questions at a public meeting at Fayette Elementary School in West Terre Haute in August 2023.

A company that wants to store its carbon emissions underground has laid out $3 million in potential benefits for Vigo and Vermillion counties.

Among other things, Wabash Valley Resources plans to create a fund to support charities and environmental efforts, prepare coal workers for new jobs, and upgrade roads near the injection sites.

Greg Zoeller is the company’s vice president for external affairs. He said Wabash Valley Resources also hopes to clean up the site of its new fertilizer plant, which sits along the Wabash River. It used to be home to a Duke Energy coal facility.

‘“I know Terre Haute particularly has been very active in trying to upgrade their riverfront and focused on public enjoyment. So we're going to be a good neighbor in trying to do some of that ourselves," Zoeller said.

Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text "Indiana" to 765-275-1120. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on climate solutions and climate change at ipbs.org/climatequestions.

Zoeller said the community benefits plans would also train first responders to handle spills of anhydrous ammonia — the type of fertilizer Wabash Valley plans to make.

But that’s not the main concern for residents who oppose the project. They worry about the potential for pipeline leaks and earthquakes, and that the CO2 could migrate. Susan Strole-Kos said she feels what the community really wants is being ignored.

“We need monitoring. We need alarms for the school. We need a plan in place if something happens," she said.

Zoeller said the company isn’t required to put forth these benefits plans. But Wabash Valley does need a community benefits plan to receive grant funding from the U.S. Department of Energy through either the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law or the Inflation Reduction Act.

Vigo County plans to take comments on its agreement until July 8 at noon at WVR@vigocounty.in.gov.

Rebecca is our energy and environment reporter. Contact her at rthiele@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

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Rebecca Thiele covers statewide environment and energy issues.