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Audience Skeptical of Proposed Bion Ethanol-From-Cattle Project

By Ryan Morden, contributing writer

Oswego NY – Bion Environmental Technologies is trying to win the support of the Oswego County community to build a beef cattle and ethanol production mega project in Schroeppel.

Bion has its work cut out for itself, if the audience that heard its pitch is any indication.

At a forum held at SUNY Oswego’s Campus Center Wednesday night, officials from the company gave an hour-long technical presentation to a skeptical audience and took questions.

Dominic Bassani, Bion’s Vice President for Strategic Affairs, responds to questions from the audience at Wednesday night's forum in the SUNY Oswego Campus Center's auditorium. He was joined by two other Bion officials, Jeff Kapell and James Morris.
Dominic Bassani, Bion’s Vice President for Strategic Affairs, responds to questions from the audience at Wednesday night's forum in the SUNY Oswego Campus Center's auditorium. He was joined by two other Bion officials, Jeff Kapell and Dr. James Morris.

“The community has to be on board, the community has to understand what this is,” said Dominic Bassani, Bion’s Vice President for Strategic Affairs.

They want to create what they call a sustainable operation that processes beef cattle and creates ethanol from the manure. They say the operation will create nearly 600 jobs.

Bassani and two other officials, Jeff Kapell and Dr. James Morris, call the technology new. The unknown variables surrounding the novel idea didn’t sit well with some who spoke at the forum.

Oswego County Legislator Barbara Brown, who operates a farm, said the Bion officials "don’t know what they’re doing. Their plan is unprepared to handle unexpected natural events, such as the recent earthquake and tornadoes, she told them.Holding the microphone for her is Jeff Grimshaw of SUNY Oswego's Office of Business and Community Relations.
Oswego County Legislator Barbara Brown, who operates a farm, said the Bion officials "don’t know what they’re doing. Their plan is unprepared to handle unexpected natural events, such as the recent earthquake and tornadoes, she told them.Holding the microphone for her is Jeff Grimshaw of SUNY Oswego's Office of Business and Community Relations.

“This is beyond the experience of Oswego County,” said Nancy Weber, President of the Oswego County Farm Bureau.

Weber asked how Bion would handle a potential disease outbreak among 14,000 cattle. Bassani mistook her question and tried to answer to the environmental impact. He kept saying that 14,000 beef cattle is the equivalent of 500 dairy cattle in terms of environmental impact.

The audience groaned in annoyance, and Weber asked her question again, eventually asking for answers in a “yes” or “no” form.

As to whether Bion has a plan to address disease spread among several thousand cattle, Bassani simply answered, “No.”

“It’s about bringing in expertise,” said Bassani, explaining how he would address concerns raised by citizens of Oswego County.

Dr. Kestas Bendinskas,an environmental science professor at SUNY Oswego, listens to Bion's presentation Wednesday night. Their studies, which were done in Texas and Pennsylvania, don't apply to Central New York, he told the Bion representatives. The overall idea is great, he told them, but added, "the location is very questionable.”
Dr. Kestas Bendinskas,an environmental science professor at SUNY Oswego, listens to Bion's presentation Wednesday night. Their studies, which were done in Texas and Pennsylvania, don't apply to Central New York, he told the Bion representatives. The overall idea is great, he told them, but added, "the location is very questionable.”

“Bion is a technology company and a developer,” and not a farming company, said Bassani.

Oswego County Legislator Barbara Brown, who operates a farm, and others are concerned that Bion is underestimating the climate of the region.

“They don’t know what they’re doing,” said Brown.

She says they’re unprepared to handle unexpected natural events, such as the recent earthquake and tornadoes.

Similar concerns caused strong opposition to Bion’s plans in St. Lawrence County, which the company abandoned in early 2009.  Oswego County’s Environmental Management Council reviewed Bion’s plans and said there wasn’t enough information to say whether the project would be good or bad.

Jeff Kapell, Vice President for Project Development and Renewals, says the next step will be to seek out specific sites in Oswego County and to begin environmental impact studies.

3 Comments

  1. These people are rich businessmen who have no business invading our community and foisting ‘green tech’ as the solution to our problems. We need strong communities, not industrial development.

    I will fight this project every step of the way.

  2. WITH Oswego County’s high winds, and somewhat congested residential areas, I think this would almost certainly be a bad idea. Property values would drop in a region where values are already nationally very, very low. WHO would want to live here?

    With four seasons of tourism potential, do we want to compromise our geographical appearance, let alone our olifactory one?

    We, in Oswego City, have dealt with sewage treatment odors for decades. ASK the people living downwind of this, how attractive it is in nice weather!

    IF you interview individuals living in the southern states in which there are pig farms/slaughter houses, you will find that geographically attractive regions are almost unmarketable, whereas, upwind gets really decent property values.

    We don’t need this. It will not put many Oswego County residents to work, but it will keep many more from staying here.

    Southern Oswego County, where the proposed facility is to open, is just beginning to recover and actually expand (with residents of Syracuse discovering affordable properties in our county), DO WE REALLY WANT TO DO THIS??? WHAT IS IN IT FOR US???

    Debbie

  3. If you listened to Bions presentation, the only thing they will build is sewage treatment plant for cattle. That’s it. Everything else will be done by other companies. Bion will not run the farm or the slaughterhouse, their business partners will. When they can name everyone involved and answer ALL the questions they should come back.
    How many time have we been sold a bill of goods in this area only to get short changed. Can you say P.A.S. or how about “Liberty Paper” that Sithe was bringing in to make their project seem better than it was. Sithe was O.K. but they really blew smoke up our skirts with the paper company.

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