Proposed Methane Plant Near the Campus of Simmons College Prompts Protests

Simmons-CollegeSTAR BioEnergy has plans to build a methane plant near the campus of Simmons College in Louisville, Kentucky. The plant would receive organic byproducts from the operations of a local distiller, which would be converted to methane gas. Some local residents have objected to the project saying they are concerned about gas leaks, safety, and their property values.

The company initially had pledged to transfer ownership of an old distillery building and four acres of land to Simmons College as part of the deal to win approval of the project from the city of Louisville. The donation was part of a $5 million package in aid for the development of the surrounding area.

Simmons College, founded in 1879, is the nation’s newest historically Black college or university, receiving this designation from the Department of Education earlier this year after it obtained accreditation from the Association for Biblical Education. (See JBHE post here.)

The college planned to renovate the abandoned distillery building to provide student housing. But the final plan did not include a transfer of the property to the college. Students held campus protests demanding that the company stand by its earlier pledge. Others in the community, who oppose the methane plant on environmental grounds, believe that the city and the college are being bought off in order for the company to win approval of the plant that they say is unwanted in a densely populated urban area.

The next step in the process is a hearing at the Louisville-Jefferson County Board of Zoning Appeals.

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