Editorial, International Falls Daily Journal

As oil and fuel prices skyrocket, new technology is needed to help the United States wean itself from outside sources.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is right when she says we need homegrown energy that will create new jobs and fuel in our future. Klobuchar is a part of that effort as she helped secure funding for a plasma gasification facility proposed for Koochiching County. Her work, and the work of many others, is appreciated on this front.

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Energy and Water this week approved $700,000 toward a feasibility study now underway that should assess technical, economic and environmental issues involved in the proposal. The entire $45.5 million bill must now clear a full Senate vote.

Called the Renewable Energy Clean Air Project, the facility would use garbage to create energy and other marketable byproducts. Officials say the technology is clean. And, it should be noted that this is not an incinerator. Instead, a plasma torch at extremely high temperatures would gasify the waste, not burn it.

The facility would benefit Koochiching County in a number of ways.

It would alleviate the nearly $1 million annual bill the county pays to haul and place the garbage generated here in a landfill. And, as County Commissioner Mike Hanson has said, finding a way to keep garbage from being placed in the ground is simply the right thing to do environmentally. The facility would likely need to include the garbage generated across the region to keep it operating and officials are already discussing the issue with other communities.

The facility would need people to run it. And that means new jobs and money in community. It would involve developing a training program in conjunction with Rainy River Community College. The program could serve to feed the skilled labor needs of other facilities that being proposed across the nation, as well as provide stability for the college.
Klobuchar said the proposal represents the type of innovation and leadership needed to achieve energy security. We think she’s right and look forward to the results of the feasibility study.