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Fueling the Debate

August 7, 2008

By Bob Blake, The Lima News, Ohio

Aug. 7–LIMA — Labor leaders, Democrats and local politicians are hoping the two presidential candidates take the issue of alternative energy seriously. A day before the presumptive Republican nominee comes to town, some are questioning the commitment to alternatives like ethanol.

The event, promoted by the Ohio Democratic Party, was billed as a discussion of Sen. John McCain’s “consistent record of opposition to ethanol, as well as other forms of alternative energy.” Local leaders, however, chose not to engage in attacks, but to tout the benefits of ethanol while in the shadow of the Greater Ohio Ethanol plant in Perry Township.

“It’s been an economic boom to Allen County,” said Norm Capps, a Perry Township trustee, on the Hanthorn Road ethanol plant. “We’d just like to encourage all our presidential candidates to be supportive of these kinds of endeavors.”

The plant has resulted in millions of dollars of wages and benefits for local workers to get the plant up and running, local labor leaders said. The plant is good for the local economy as well as developing alternative sources of energy.

“We want to draw attention to either presidential candidate, what’s their policy on biodiesel? Are they in favor of it, are they supporting it, against it, what’s their voting record with this thing,” said Mike Knisley, business manager for United Association Plumbers, Pipefitters and Service Technicians union Local 776. “We want to see this plant stay around this area for a long time. It’s been great for us and we hope it will continue for an indefinite amount of time.”

The rally on Wednesday came a day before McCain’s planned town hall rally today at Veterans Memorial Civic and Convention Center.

“I have supported it from day one. It’s not for political reason,” Perry Township Trustee Frank Lamar said. “I’ve been told the nominee for the Republican Party will be coming into Lima [today] and that’s his right. I can’t understand how any presidential candidate whether [Sen.] Barack Obama or McCain if they’re against these type of projects I don’t understand their thinking. That’s my feeling about the whole situation.”

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