Ethanol is widely regarded as a clean fuel source, but producing the biofuel can be an entirely different story. Plenty of guidelines exist to keep track of environmental concerns associated with ethanol production and, if those regulations aren't followed, you better be prepared for some stiff fines.

Lincolnway Energy, LLC learned first-hand just how bad those fines can be when they violated air and water pollution guidelines at its Nevada, IA facility a few years ago. The Attorney General's Office and district court judge Dale Ruigh recently handed down a penalty for violations dating back to 2006. For non-compliance from 2006 to 2008, Lincolnway Energy was fined a whopping $176,750, the largest fine given to an ethanol producer in the state's history.

It's hard to argue that the company wasn't deserving of the stiff fine. The lawsuit mentioned several areas where the company failed to follow clearly defined guidelines including:
  • Emitting air pollutants, including particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, in excess of permitted limits on numerous occasions from Dec. 2006 to Dec. 2008.
  • Failing to conduct numerous required "stack tests" in 2007 to determine compliance with construction permit air pollution emission limits.
  • Failing to comply with continuous emission monitoring requirements.
Oh yeah, they also dumped wastewater containing high levels of chlorine and iron into nearby West Indian Creek. The company says it has corrected all problems and paid the fine, allowing them to continue operations and produce an anticipated 55 million gallons of ethanol each year. With production numbers like that, the fine is little more than a slap to the face, but forcing a company to clean up its act is a victory that benefits everyone.

[Source: Iowa Politics]

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