FDS Coke, Oregon

Aerial photo of site Aerial photo of site

The Maumee River flows northeast to Lake Erie. Toledo is to the west, Oregon to the east. The proposed site of the coke complex is on the east side of the river, near the center of the photo.


Thanks for research assistance to Alex Sagady, Community Environmental Protection, East Lansing, Michigan.
Sep 15, 2009: Appellate court says shortened coke plant hearings improper

site aerial view

COLUMBUS -- "The battle over a proposed coking facility on the Toledo-Oregon border will go on a while longer, thanks to an appeals court ruling that has at least temporarily derailed lawmakers’ attempts to expedite decisions. Three hearings that were set for tomorrow on the FDS Coking Plant before the Environmental Review Appeals Commission have been canceled. The 10th District Court of Appeals in Columbus will hold a hearing Thursday in a lawsuit that claims the commission unconstitutionally limited the length of hearings to comply with strict new deadlines for final decisions adopted in July as part of the new state budget," Toledo Blade.

Sep 1, 2009: Coke plant hearing over permit accelerates
State budget sets deadlines for appeals

COLUMBUS -- "A hearing on a proposed permit for a controversial coking facility on the Toledo-Oregon border has been suddenly fast-tracked after lawmakers quietly slipped language into the state budget to accelerate appeals... Sandy Bihn, a Sierra Club member from Oregon, said the brief hearings and rushed timelines for discovery will put opponents at a disadvantage while failing to fully prepare a record to be later reviewed by the 10th District Court of Appeals in Columbus. 'The strangest thing of all is we don't know who the owners and operators are,' she said. 'We don't know who the backers are. Stranger still is that the state of Ohio is pursuing this with all these unknowns,'" Jim Provance, Toledo Blade.
June 30, 2009: East Toledo-Oregon coke plant project hangs on
Payment deadline is met; environmental OK is next

Toledo Harbor and Maumee Bay

TOLEDO -- "All systems are go for the construction of a coking facility and co-generation power plant on the East Toledo-Oregon border, pending the required environmental approval. Monday, a private entity based in northwest Ohio, which officials would not name, lent FDS Coke Plant LLC $191,000 so the company could make a payment to Midwest Independent System Operator Inc. that was required to keep the project active. 'This loan will allow us to go into the final planning phase,' said Lance Traves, FDS project manager and environmental consultant," Florence Dethy, Toledo Blade.

TOLEDO -- Lucas County officials to announce deal to keep plans for coking facilitiy, Toledo Blade. Published June 29.
June 19, 2009: Loan could secure plans for coke plant, Konop says

Commissioner Ben Konop
TOLEDO -- "Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop wants the county to offer FDS Coke Plant LLC a six-month, $200,000 loan to help prevent the company from canceling its plans for a coking facility and co-generation power plant on the East Toledo-Oregon border. The planned facility may be scrapped because of outstanding permit issues that have delayed the project for five years, Mr. Konop said. FDS has threatened to end the project if the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission does not rule on permit issues by June 26 - the date by which the company is scheduled to make a $200,000 payment related to the project to Midwest Independent System Operator Inc.," Toledo Blade.
June 10, 2009: Mayors of Toledo, Oregon reaffirm support for coking plant on border

Oregon Mayor Marge Brown and Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner
TOLEDO -- "Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner and Oregon Mayor Marge Brown yesterday reaffirmed their support for the proposed FDS coking facility and co-generation power plant on the East Toledo-Oregon border. Mr. Finkbeiner opened a news conference on the proposed site by referencing a Blade article about the project yesterday. The story quoted a spokesman for FDS Coke Plant LLC that the project will be dead unless investors see movement by June 26 on an appeal before an independent state board called the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission. The appeal was filed in 2004 by the village of Harbor View and the Sierra Club. Both have raised concerns about the project's environmental impact," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

TOLEDO -- Delays could scrap plans for Ohio plant, new jobs, Associated Press.
June 9, 2009: Group threatens to scrap coke plant
After five years, leaders tired of delays

TOLEDO -- "FDS Coke Plant LLC could be on the verge of scrapping its plans for a coking facility and co-generation power plant on the East Toledo-Oregon border. The project, one of Ohio's largest, carries an estimated price tag of $800 million to $1 billion. The consortium that put it together has promised 150 blue-collar jobs with average salaries of $45,000, along with 1,500 to 2,000 temporary construction jobs. But five years after the original permit for the coking portion was issued by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, no construction has begun... The holdup centers around a joint appeal filed by the village of Harbor View and the Sierra Club," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
Jan 12, 2009: 30 gather to oppose plans for coke plant
Investors seek deal with Harbor View

TOLEDO -- "The investors group trying to build a $1 billion coking facility and co-generation power plant on Maumee Bay held an informational meeting last night in Oregon for residents of a tiny village opposed to its plan. The residents, however, held their own counter-meeting, and attracted more participants. Thirty residents of Harbor View gathered in their village hall to express unwavering opposition to the project planned by FDS Coke LLC. Their main concern: The large plant, to be less than a mile west of them on the Toledo-Oregon line, would dump pollution in the form of coal dust, particulates, and gaseous emissions on their downwind village of 50 households," Carl Ryan, Toledo Blade. Published January 22, 2009.

Jan 12. 2009: Oregon coking plant stalled by village
Harbor View says "Not in my back yard"

TOLEDO -- " A nearly $1 billion coking plant and all the jobs and tax revenue it would generate may be in jeopardy. The proposed plant is along the Maumee River, about a quarter mile from the village of Harbor View. The village is holding up this project by appealing the building permit approved for the coking plant and by flat-out rejecting a settlement offer. This small community of roughly 50 homes is dead set against what it considers a big, polluting coking plant a quarter mile away. Vicki Slinker lived near one as a kid and she won't do that again. 'We used to get black stuff that would come into the windows and stuff like that,'" WTVG. Published January 8.
Oct 30, 2008: Proposed coking plant gets state's OK to build
Groundbreaking eyed for $800M facility in '09

PORT CLINTON -- "The power plant would convert waste heat from the coking plant into steam, then use the steam to spin turbines that generate up to 135 megawatts of electricity. That's about enough power for 100,000 homes. The proposed coker, years in the making and beset by numerous delays, remains one of Ohio's largest projects on paper with no firm construction timetable. Both it and the power plant are to be built on 51 acres owned by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority along western Lake Erie's Maumee Bay. The coking facility began as a $300 million project in 2004. Costs rose to $800 million with the inclusion of the power plant, rising prices of labor and materials, and more pollution controls," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Oct 29, 2008: Co-generation plant to open in Toledo

PORT CLINTON -- "FDS Coke Plant, LLC has received approval by the Ohio Power Siting Board for a 'Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need' to construct the FDS Co-Generation Facility, a proposed 135 Megawatt power plant in Toledo. The power plant is a key component of the proposed FDS Coke Plant Project that entails the capital investment of an estimated $800 million in Ohio’s industrial manufacturing sector," Port Clinton News Herald.
Apr 1, 2008: Coking plant's backers say facility still a go

TOLEDO-- "FDS Coke LLC is still committed to building its proposed $800 million coking facility and co-generation power plant near Maumee Bay, despite veering off yet another projected groundbreaking date and being confronted by a new round of appeals. Francis X. Lyons, the investor group's Chicago-based attorney, told The Blade yesterday that project sponsors continue to work on financing but that there is no updated construction timetable," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
Mar 31, 2008: Sierra Club, Harbor View appeal coke plant permit

TOLEDO-- "FDS Coke Plant LLC’s latest permit modification for its proposed $800 million coking facility and co-generation power plant along western Lake Erie’s Maumee Bay has been appealed by the Sierra Club and the village of Harbor View. The environmental group’s attorney, Dennis Muchnicki of Columbus, claimed the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s action is invalid because the original 2004 permit had expired. He also noted the group’s first appeal has not been heard," Toledo Blade.
Feb 11, 2008 Mercury emissions ruling doesn't apply to coke plant
But rejection of Bush plan may be costly for coal-fired sites

The ruling may force FirstEnergy to invest in more pollution controls for its coal-burning Bay Shore plant in Oregon, Ohio.

TOLEDO -- "FDS Coke Plant's proposed $800 million coking facility and co-generation power plant won't be affected by a federal appeals court ruling in Washington yesterday that invalidated the federal cap-and-trade system the Bush Administration had wanted for controlling mercury emissions. But the decision could require millions of dollars more in pollution controls for Ohio's aging coal-fired power plants, including FirstEnergy Corp.'s Bay Shore facility in Oregon," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade. Published February 9.

Feb 1, 2008: East side coke plant gets latest green light
$800M project aims for March start date

FDS Coke Plant OREGON -- "FDS Coke Plant LLC got the green light yesterday - again - to build its proposed $800 million coking facility and co-generation power plant along western Lake Erie's Maumee Bay. Groundbreaking is targeted for late March, said Lance Traves, the project's manager and environmental consultant. The site, on 51 acres owned by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, falls within Oregon and East Toledo. Oregon Mayor Marge Brown, who has supported the project since its inception, said she was pleased the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency yesterday reissued its 2005 permit modification," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
Jan 24, 2008: Pollution inevitable with coking plant

Aerial view of Toledo Harbor and Maumee Bay
OREGON -- "For the last 54 years, I have lived on or near the Maumee Bay shoreline. I have seen first-hand all the changes that have been made to the lake and bay over the years. For 40 years I was a member of the Oregon Fire Department, the last 20 as assistant chief. It was my job to investigate all spills, releases, and leaks. I've probably walked every ditch, swale, creek, and sewer in the city at one time or another. The biggest offenders were the industries from within the city. When we allow companies such as the FDS Coke Plant to become part of our community, we accept the possibility of these events happening. They come with the territory," William Flanagan, letter to the editor, Toledo Blade.
Dec 7, 2007: FDS Coke Plant plan debated
300 attend EPA hearing on its air-quality permit

location of FDS coke plantOREGON -- "About 300 people attended a public information session and hearing last night on the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's second attempt at softening FDS Coke Plant LLC's 2004 permit to help the controversial $800 million coking operation and co-generation power plant get built along western Lake Erie's Maumee Bay. The information session began with Mike Hopkins, the agency's assistant chief for the division that issues air permits, acknowledging the proposed coking operation 'is not a small facility in terms of air pollution.' In addition to its potential for releasing 51 pounds of mercury a year, it could release as many as a million tons of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas that causes global warming," Toledo Blade.
Nov 30, 2007: Proposed coke plant raises concerns for neighboring communities

public hearing noticeOREGON -- "Sandy Bihn doesn't know her possible new neighbors, but she's leery about what their presence in her community could mean. Bihn, a member of Oregon City Council, is concerned about the amount of air and water pollution a proposed industrial facility to be located along the border of Oregon and Toledo would release into the environment. The plant, which would produce coke, a byproduct of coal, for use in North American steel and foundry facilities, will be built on an area the City of Toledo pledged to keep as wetlands when it expanded its water treatment plant on York Street south of the site," Duane Ramsey, Toledo Free Press.
Nov 19, 2007: New web site details coke plant
Hearing on proposed $800M facility along Lake Erie set for Dec. 6

TOLEDO -- "FDS Coke Plant LLC has created a Web site, www.fdscokeplant.com, to disseminate information about the $800 million coking facility and co-generation power plant it has proposed along Lake Erie's Maumee Bay where East Toledo and Oregon meet. The announcement was made yesterday, just three weeks shy of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's public information session and hearing about the coking phase of the project. Those meetings are Dec. 6 at the Clay High School auditorium, 5665 Seaman Rd., Oregon, beginning at 6:30 p.m.," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade. Published November 18.
Nov 5, 2007: EPA taking comments to revise coking permit

TOLEDO -- "Comments about the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to remodify FDS Coke Plant LLC’s 2004 permit can be sent through Dec. 13 to Matt Stanfield, Toledo Division of Environmental Services, 348 South Erie St., Toledo, OH 43604, or faxed to (419) 936-3959. The Ohio EPA said last week it is willing to modify the permit to make the applicant’s proposed $800 million coking plant and co-generation power plant more viable. The agency said its concessions will not compromise public health," Toledo Blade.
Oct 31, 2007: Ohio EPA reinstates permit changes for FDS coke plant on Maumee Bay

OREGON -- "The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency yesterday reinstated several of the major 2005 permit modifications that a state panel stripped away from FDS Coke Plant LLC in June, including one that attempts to cap the proposed coking facility's mercury emissions at 51 pounds a year. The latest version also calls for a few new additions, including an emission limit for hydrochloric acid based on tests at Ohio's only operating coking facility, the Haverhill North Coke plant in Scioto County, the state agency said," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
Jul 18, 2007: Ohio agency won't pledge to reinstate coking permit

Site of proposed coke plant
TOLEDO -- "The director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency told Oregon officials yesterday that FDS Coke Plant LLC is not assured of getting the terms of its 2005 permit reinstated, despite Gov. Ted Strickland's successful courting of the state legislature last month for the power to do so. Chris Korleski, in his first statement about the controversy, said in a letter to Oregon and its mayor, Marge Brown, that he will rely on his technical experts to "ensure that my action on the modification request is prudent, lawful, and reasonable,'" Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
Jul 10, 2007: Vote opposes eased coke plant permit

rockwell TOLEDO -- "The audience in Oregon City Council chambers erupted into applause after council unanimously voted on a resolution opposing any modification request made by the proposed FDS Coke Plant to increase emissions from a permit approved in 2004. Council passed the resolution making the recommendations to Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Chris Korleski at last night's council meeting. After a 90-minute discussion, council accepted the resolution originally proposed by Councilman Sandy Bihn after members voted to amend it twice to clarify that they were especially opposed to an increase in mercury emissions and the allowance of uncontrolled venting of oven emissions," Toledo Blade.
Jul 7, 2007: Oregon demands tougher permit
Mayor wants original limits on coking plant's emissions

Oregon Mayor Marge Brown and Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner.
TOLEDO -- "One week after Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner demanded that the proposed $800 million FDS Coke Plant project be held to stringent pollution controls outlined in its original 2004 permit, Oregon Mayor Marge Brown echoed that sentiment and went one step further. In a letter released yesterday, she urged new Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Chris Korleski to veer from that permit only if he is incorporating something tougher. She said Oregon wants the state agency 'to retain the strictest possible limits in place for all pollutants,'" Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
Jul 6, 2007: Money is the only 'green' for coke plant

TOLEDO -- "The FDS coke plant will use 2 million tons of coal that will annually emit 7 million pounds of emissions into the air. The old coke plant that many remember on Front Street emitted more than 2 million pounds annually. The mercury target limit for the new coke plant is 51 pounds... The only thing green about this FDS coke plant foreign limited-liability company is the green money FDS is trying to raise from taxpayers that the coke plant could not get on its own," Sandy Bihn, letter to the editor, Toledo Blade.
Jul 1, 2007: State insists coking plant permit is not a done deal

TOLEDO -- "Barring a dramatic turn of events, the new law - and the enormous power it vests in Ohio EPA directors - takes effect today when Ohio's new fiscal year begins. A veto by Gov. Ted Strickland was a long shot, given that his administration had pulled an end-around on the public by using a budget rider to put the proposal before legislators in the first place. 'Until the ink's dry on the governor's [budget] signature, we're not going to start processing it,' Ms. Pierce said Thursday of the new FDS paperwork. Now, there's regulatory patience for you - especially considering the project's gone more than three years without so much as having a shovel stuck into the ground, even with some $60,000 in overtime the Ohio EPA and Toledo environmental services racked up in 2004 to keep FDS from being subjected to tighter federal ozone regulations," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
Jun 30, 2007: Mayor riled by coke plant moves
Finkbeiner opposes softening FDS' permit

TOLEDO -- "Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner told The Blade yesterday he 'may have to re-examine our position' on the proposed $800 million coking facility and co-generation power plant if the project's developer follows through with its second attempt to get its 2004 permit softened. During an interview from his office, Mr. Finkbeiner said he wants FDS Coke Plant LLC to abide by tough environmental restrictions that former Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Chris Jones wrote into the original permit. He said the company 'should not screw around' any longer," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
Jun 29, 2007: Amendment may aid Toledo's quest for energy

COLUMBUS -- "Toledo residents may have moved closer to benefiting from steam power generated by the proposed $800 million FDS Coke Plant. Under an amendment added to Ohio's just-passed state budget, the project could qualify for federal tax-exempt financing if it sells energy generated by the plant to a tax-exempt municipal utility rather than to FirstEnergy Corp... 'It's the logical thing to do," state Rep. Peter J. Ujvagi (D., Toledo) said. 'If we are going to take some environmental hit, then the community and citizens ought to be in a position to benefit from lower-cost energy considering we're one of the highest-cost energy areas of the state,'" Jim Provance, Toledo Blade.
Jun 25, 2007: Oregon, East Toledo coke permit plan would keep right of appeal
State budget panel says it ensures public input

COLUMBUS -- "New authority for Ohio’s environmental director to rethink a permit for the $800 million FDS Coke Plant in Oregon and East Toledo as well as future projects is headed for a final budget vote. But the House-Senate conference committee working in an unusual Sunday session to fashion a compromise between differing two-year budgets changed the language to guarantee that people who feel they’ve been harmed by permit revisions can join appeals already under way," Jim Provance, Toledo Blade.
Jun 23, 2007: Changes sought to coke plant proposal
Budget compromise might allow appeals

COLUMBUS -- "A legislative panel fashioning a compromise state budget is negotiating changes to Gov. Ted Strickland's proposal to allow his new environmental director to change the permit for the proposed FDS Coke Plant in Oregon and East Toledo. The talks are largely focused on ensuring that property owners, governments, environmental groups, or others who are not involved in appeals over the proposed $800 million plant could enter the fray if they feel changes made to the 2004 permit adversely affect them," Jim Provance, Toledo Blade.
Jun 21, 2007: Investors for coking plant still a mystery
Confidentiality irks some area residents

TOLEDO -- "FDS Coke Plant LLC, which also has gone by the name U.S. Coking Group LLC, has identified some of the parties it has hired to work on technical aspects of its proposed $800 million project for East Toledo and Oregon. But company representatives remain tight-lipped about investors... Oregon City Councilman Sandy Bihn, an environmental activist and opponent of the proposed coking plant, has said the lack of investor information is galling to her during this era of heightened domestic security after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
Jun 20, 2007: Ohio Citizen Action asks General Assembly to reject amendment

COLUMBUS -- "We urge you to remove the language recently slipped into the budget bill which would grease the skids for the proposed U.S. Coking Group/FDS Coke plant in Toledo by rendering powerless the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission. I emphasize that we strongly oppose the suggestion that you simply restrict the application of the amendment to the FDS Coke Plant. That proposal must face accountability by the Commission. The proposed amendment must be tossed out entirely," Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

COLUMBUS -- $52B Ohio budget awaits fine-tuning, House-Senate panel to sort minor points, Jim Provance, Toledo Blade.

Jun 20, 2007: East Toledo, Oregon coking plant project told to share generated steam power
Pair seek local benefits from project's electricity

The graphic above, based on a conceptual drawing released last night by FDS Coke Plant LLC, shows what the power plant would look like but does not show the coking facility. (Toledo Blade)

TOLEDO -- "Mayor Carty Finkbeiner and Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken yesterday said they want local residents and businesses to directly benefit from any power that's generated as part of the proposed $800 million FDS Coke Plant project in East Toledo and Oregon. They may be too late. Lance Traves, FDS Coke Plant LLC project manager and environmental consultant, told The Blade the local officials' concern 'is new to us,'" Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

OREGON -- Public sounds off on controversial coking plant, WNWO.
Jun 17, 2007: Just who would own proposed coke plant?

who is? TOLEDO -- "'Never in Ohio history has the government at all levels gone to such extremes to run interference for a project whose backers' identity remains concealed from the public,' Sandy Buchanan, Ohio Citizen Action executive director, said in an April 26, 2004, letter addressed to 49 public officials. The Ohio EPA and the Ohio secretary of state's office have explained to me that ownership disclosure is not required unless a project applicant intends to bury hazardous waste. Translation: You don't have to identify yourself if you want a permit to discharge pollutants into the air and water. Whoever They Are has a permit to discharge into the air," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

TOLEDO -- Building it right, editorial, Toledo Blade.

Jun 13, 2007: Ohio budget plan hits right notes
Senate vote may be unanimous

COLUMBUS -- "Mr. Strickland yesterday defended his decision to personally intervene in the dispute over proposed construction of the FDS Coke Plant in East Toledo and Oregon along Lake Erie. The unidentified investors making up the U.S. Coking Group have maintained the current permit is too restrictive, while environmental groups have argued that the governor's language will allow the EPA director to do an end run around the appeals process. 'There was the possibility of up to an $800 million investment in that project in that part of the state,' Mr. Strickland said. 'We think what we suggested here is common sense,'" Jim Provance, Toledo Blade.

COLUMBUS -- Citizen Action files public records request for all communications between U.S. Coking Group and Toledo Lucas County Port Authority, City of Oregon, City of Toledo and Lucas County, letters from Catherine Turcer, Legislative Director, Ohio Citizen Action. (23 k docs)

Jun 11, 2007: Citizen Action files public records request for all communications between U.S. Coking Group and Governor Ted Strickland, Attorney General Marc Dann

marc dann
Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann
COLUMBUS -- "According to news reports, Governor Strickland is supportive of an amendment to Ohio's 2008-09 fiscal bill, which would allow the Ohio EPA Director to issue a modified permit while a permit is under appeal.  This amendment will directly impact the U.S. Coking Group and their proposed coke plant in Toledo, Ohio.  As you may be aware, the backers of the proposed coke plant remain anonymous. The Ohio Citizen Action Education Fund has been tracking Ohio political money since 1994. In order to “follow the money,” we need to know who the backers of this project are.  We would like to know the names of the backers of the proposed coke plant," letter, Catherine Turcer, Legislative Director, Ohio Citizen Action, to Wade Rakes, Director, Office of Public Liaison, Office of the Governor.

COLUMBUS -- Public records request to Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann, letter, Catherine Turcer, Legislative Director, Ohio Citizen Action, to Ed Simpson, Chief, Policy and Administration, Office of the Attorney General of Ohio.

Jun 10, 2007: Coking plant may receive legal boost
Plan targets permit hurdle

COLUMBUS -- "Rather than make U.S. Coking Group appeal the state board's decision in a Franklin County court - which could take years - Mr. Strickland has agreed to use Ohio's 2008-09 fiscal budget to give his Ohio EPA director, Chris Korleski, the authority that Mr. Koncelik thought that he had while he was the agency chief. As early as Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee could insert that request to augment Mr. Korleski's authority into its massive list of budget riders known as the omnibus amendment... Environmental activist Sandy Bihn of Oregon disputed that assessment. 'I think this circumvents due process,' she said. 'What's the point of having any process at all if the director can just take it away from the people?,'" Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
Jun 5, 2007: Finkbeiner backs stalled coke plant

EAST TOLEDO -- "With Oregon Mayor Marge Brown at his side, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner yesterday expressed his continued support for a planned $600 million coke works on the cities’ border, despite the project’s most recent setback. 'The plant is moving forward,' Mr. Finkbeiner said at a press conference. 'Mayor Brown, myself, and [Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken] ... are all fully committed to seeing this plant constructed here,'" Toledo Blade.
EPA guy
Mr. Koncelik, former Ohio EPA director, modified the permit to set no cap on the amount of mercury that could be released.
Jun 2, 2007: State voids East Toledo coke plant's air permit
Panel says EPA lacked authority to relax limits

EAST TOLEDO -- " Plans for building a $600 million FDS Coke Plant on the East Toledo-Oregon border were dealt a potentially lethal blow yesterday afternoon. A state board ruled that former Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Joe Koncelik lacked authority in 2005 to relax a highly restrictive permit that had been issued a year earlier by his predecessor, Chris Jones. The board voided Mr. Koncelik’s action," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
Dec 15, 2006: Spring groundbreaking possible
Coke plant owners sign deal with 2 contractors

TOLEDO -- "Plans for building the proposed $600 million FDS Coke Plant on the East Toledo-Oregon border have a new pulse, but only because the group behind the project thought it was within hours yesterday of having its hard-fought and contentious environmental permit nullified... Costs rose by millions of dollars in response to environmental controls that the Ohio EPA imposed for mercury and other pollutants at the request of the U.S. EPA, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Environment Canada, and a slew of activists and area residents," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
Jun 15, 2006:  Permit remains idle for U.S. Coking site
Official: Groundbreaking set for fall

TOLEDO -- "The Ohio EPA issued the construction permit on June 14, 2004, after a number of hearings that involved the public and meetings with officials in Ohio and Michigan. The state agency and Toledo Environmental Services had officials work overtime to help the applicant beat a federal 2004 deadline for stricter smog controls. Those costs are to be passed on to U.S. Coking Group, a consortium of unidentified investors," Toledo Blade.
Mar 16, 2006:  Coke plant has pushed back date to break ground

TOLEDO -- "Groundbreaking for U.S. Coking Group's proposed FDS Coke Plant along Maumee Bay has been pushed back until at least summer, and the anticipated cost of the project has risen another $100 million. Ken Filipiak, Oregon administrator, told The Blade yesterday that the latest cost estimate is $600 million... The delay means the project likely will hit its two-year anniversary before construction begins. The Ohio EPA issued permits for it in June, 2004," Toledo Blade.
Dec 2, 2005:  Plan commissions OK coke plant location
However, board members express dismay over industrial project's secrecy

TOLEDO -- "U.S. Coking Group's choice of a 51-acre site along Lake Erie's Maumee Bay for its proposed $500 million FDS Coke Plant got a reluctant endorsement yesterday from the Toledo-Lucas County Plan Commissions. Members of the joint board admitted they knew little about the massive industrial project, and were dismayed by the continued secrecy of investors behind it...Commissioners made it clear they were unqualified to judge the potential environmental implications of the project, which has risen in cost by about $200 million because of pollution controls the company has agreed to install following months of negotiations with regulators. Their vote, commissioners said, was limited to the general compatibility of the site," Toledo Blade.
Nov 29, 2005:  FDS Coke Plant gets water quality permit

TOLEDO -- "In issuing the permit, Ohio EPA officials said that about 50 people attended a public hearing Oct. 4 in Oregon. Among their concerns was how storm water runoff would be handled during the construction phase and after the facility is built. The Ohio EPA said the company plans to construct a berm around the 40-acre construction site and, during construction, runoff will be directed to sediment settling traps prior to discharge. After the plant's construction, storm water runoff will be directed to retention basins. The facility also will be designed to recycle storm water through industrial processes. The basins will not discharge into Duck Creek, Otter Creek, Maumee Bay, or other wetlands on the site," Toledo Blade.
Nov 28, 2005:  Coke plant site design to be topic of meeting
Discussion may be last public hearing

TOLEDO -- "a $350 million coke processing plant in East Toledo that will process coal for the steel industry may go before the public one last time Thursday when the Toledo-Lucas County Plan Commissions consider its major site plan, said Steve Herwat, director of the plan commissions. That's not to say questions - and lawsuits - don't remain about the environmental impact of the facility that will be located along a northeast bank of the Maumee River and near two creeks, said Sandy Bihn, chairman of the Sierra Club's Western Lake Erie chapter. She and others have tried to find out details on the owners of the company, U.S. Coking Group, but inquiries have led only to addresses and phone numbers of lawyers and consultants, she said," Robin Erb, Toledo Blade.

Sep 22, 2005 New coking plant permits issued

OREGON -- "It's been talked about for three years and now appears to be a go. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has issued permits for the U.S. Coking Group to construct a multi-million dollar coke plant in Oregon. It would be built along Maumee Bay between Duck and Otter Creeks. But not everybody welcomes the plant. Sandy Bihn heads up the group 'Western Lake Erie Waterkeepers' and has been fighting construction of the plant. She says it will pollute the water and air. Ms. Bihn thinks the Ohio EPA made the wrong call in issuing the permit. 'It's a major emitter for our area, major negative for our area and I think the EPA has not done it's job because pretty much the EPA says 'If you do what we say, you can come'' according to Ms. Bihn," WTOL-TV.

Sep 21, 2005:  State OKs coke plant, increased Envirosafe waste

TOLEDO -- "U.S. Coking Group got authorization yesterday to build the latest version of its proposed FDS Coke Plant along Lake Erie's Maumee Bay, while Envirosafe Services of Ohio Inc. got a green light to pile electric arc furnace dust 74 feet higher at its hazardous waste landfill in Oregon. The two permits were issued separately by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, which also announced that it will take comments on plans to fill 0.69 acres of a wetland for the coke project. Comments on the wetland project will be accepted by the Ohio EPA at a public hearing at 7 p.m. Oct. 4 at Oregon City Hall, 5330 Seaman Rd. The agency also will take them in writing through Oct. 11," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

Aug 26, 2005:  A borderline dispute

TOLEDO -- "It's not exactly a line in the sand. Call it a line in the creek. Whatever, and wherever, it is, the Deer Creek boundary between the cities of Oregon and Toledo continues to dominate - and threaten - plans for a $350 million coking plant and the 200 jobs it would provide... If the new plant is considered a Toledo project, the company would be eligible for more than $30 million in federal 'new market tax credits' over the next 15 years, credits that would be jeopardized or lost if there is no agreement by next Wednesday. The U.S. Coking Group wants the dispute resolved by then or it could look for a location out of the region... Of course, there are some who believe that coking, which is essential to the manufacture of steel, presents an environmental threat and shouldn't be built at all. Critics contend that any level of mercury is hazardous, and mercury emissions are part of the coking process," Toledo Blade.

Aug 1, 2005:  Coke demand spurs construction of new plants

CLEVELAND -- "Demand from the steel industry has triggered interest in the construction of new coke plants across the Midwest and Appalachia. The rush of activity reflects the changing economics of the global steel industry. It also highlights the latest coke-making technology, which is designed to reduce the risk of toxic air pollution, a problem that has dogged the industry for decades...Most older coke plants use a technology that removes certain toxic chemicals from the waste gas and recycles them. Such plants are prone to unwanted emissions because the outward pressure created by the hot gas allows it to leak through doors and lids that aren’t well sealed. On a flat plain along the Ohio River near Portsmouth sits the newest, and perhaps cleanest, coke plant in the country. It went into production last March and already the owner, Sun Coke Co., a subsidiary of Sunoco Inc., is seeking a permit to double its size,'" Canton Repository.

Jun 22, 2005:  Group challenges efforts to modify coke plant permit

OREGON -- "A state appeals court is being asked for a restraining order that would stop Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Joe Koncelik from modifying the proposed FDS Coke Plant's permit until a dual appeals process is completed. If granted, the massive project could be in limbo again. Sandy Bihn, a Sierra Club member in Oregon, said the company can't have it both ways. She said the changes that were announced in May are substantial enough to require U.S. Coking Group to undergo tougher - and more expensive - federal ozone regulations. The applicant's attorney, Francis X. Lyons, has disagreed. 'What [the Ohio EPA] has done here is issue a new permit without a mercury limit,' Ms. Bihn said," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
Jun 13, 2005:  Regulators may relax coke plant's emissions
Firm seeks waiver on mercury limits

TOLEDO -- "The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency says it is not backing down from the spirit or intent of a restrictive permit it issued a year ago tomorrow for a proposed coke plant along the Oregon-East Toledo border. But after months of listening to company officials complain about the limit placed on mercury emissions and after hearing from public officials who fear the curbs could be the death knell for a project, the Ohio EPA has indicated it is willing to be more flexible. U.S. Coking Group, which is behind the $500 million FDS Coke Plant, has requested several permit modifications. Among the modifications is a request for a waiver from a 36-pound annual limit for airborne mercury emissions. Mercury emissions, in particle and gaseous forms, often settle on water and enter the food chain. Children who eat too much mercury-contaminated fish risk developmental problems," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
May 11, 2005:  Ohio EPA calls coke plant mercury limits flexible

TOLEDO -- "The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency could be on the verge of backing off a restrictive permit it issued last June for U.S. Coking Group's proposed FDS Coke Plant in Oregon by allowing the company to emit more harmful pollutants - including mercury - into the air. . . . Sandy Bihn, an Oregon activist and Sierra Club member who in December was hired by the Waterkeeper Alliance of Tarrytown, N.Y., as its first Western Lake Erie Waterkeeper, said she believes the Ohio EPA is backing down. 'It's just softening the permit that was issued,' she said. 'If it's achievable, then why aren't they [FDS] doing it?'" Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
Apr 12, 2005:  Cambria coke plan sparks concerns

Pollution could be threat to parkland

EBENSBURG, PA -- "According to permit information provided by the state Department of Environmental Protection, the plant planned by Sun Coke Co., a subsidiary of Philadelphia-based Sunoco Inc., is allowed to emit 3,661 tons a year of sulfur dioxide, 1,365 tons of nitrogen oxides and 940 tons of small and large airborne particles. The Sun Coke plant will also be allowed to emit 47 pounds of mercury, a dangerous neurotoxin. Sun's original application asked for permission to emit 538 pounds of mercury a year. Coke is a key component in steelmaking and is made by baking coal at high temperatures. The Sun Energy Co. plant would produce 1.7 million tons of coke a year and sell it to the International Steel Group of Cleveland,'" Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Apr 5, 2005:  Half beats nothing at all

SunCoke Haverhill

"Construction on SunCoke's newest plant in Haverhill, Ohio is nearing completion. The oven heat-up phase, using natural gas, began on February 15, 2005. Initial coal charge and first production will begin in early March, 2005. The Haverhill facility will produce approximately 550,000 tons of screened blast furnace coke per year from the 100 ovens and approximately 450,000 pounds per hour of steam to be sold to an adjacent Sunoco phenol manufacturing facility. The plant is positioned on a 267 acre tract in southern Ohio along the Ohio River," SunCoke.

TOLEDO -- "Still to be resolved, however, is the question of potential environmental harm from the [U.S. Coking Group] plant's mercury emissions. We share the concerns of East Siders and Oregon residents in that regard. Zero emissions are virtually impossible at a coking plant, which produces a material essential to the production of steel. But the original intent to emit up to 680 pounds of mercury a year into the air was dramatically cut by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to barely 5 percent of that, or 36 pounds. The construction permit would be the most stringent ever issued in Ohio for such a facility, though there is no assurance yet that the 36-pound figure will hold. U.S. Coking's unhappiness with the 36-pound limit could prove a more serious threat to the plant's construction than the border dispute. For comparison's sake, another proposed coking facility in Haverhill, Ohio, near Portsmouth -- a plant not yet built -- has no maximum mercury emission limitation at all. . . To the extent that the new [Toledo/Oregon] plant will create 150 jobs and a needed boost to the economy -- provided it can do so without jeopardizing public health -- the agreement between the two mayors is a positive step forward," editorial, Toledo Blade.

CAMBRIA, PA -- New coke plant gets quick OK; Facility will bring 750 jobs and high mercury, soot emissions to Cambria. "The state has rushed through approval of a new coke plant near Ebensburg, Cambria County, that is allowed to emit 47 pounds of mercury into the air each year and enough soot and smog that managers of national forests and wilderness areas in nearby states have expressed concern. The mercury emissions from Sun Coke Inc.'s 1.7 million tons-a-year coking and electric power generating facility would be almost 12 times the 4 pounds a year allowed from U.S. Steel's Clairton Coke Works, which can produce 6.4 million tons of coke annually. 'Rushing a permit through to get 'in under the wire' to evade more restrictive public health regulations runs absolutely counter to your department's mission to protect public health and the environment,' Sandy Buchanan, executive director of Ohio Citizen Action, wrote in a letter to Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty. The Department denied the extension request," Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Mar 31, 2005:  Two cities to share taxes from coke plant; Agreement ends boundary dispute

TOLEDO -- "Toledo and Oregon last night agreed to share equally tax dollars generated by a planned $350 million coke plant that was at the center of a boundary dispute. . . When the port authority-ordered study was completed, four people -- Lucas County Auditor Larry Kaczala; U.S. Coking Group representative Jeff Links; G. Ray Medlin, a private citizen who nine months earlier resigned from the port authority board, and Ed Schulte, senior vice president of development for the Regional Growth Partnership -- met at Mr. Medlin's house to discuss the matter, according to a port authority document," Christopher Kirkpatrick, Toledo Blade.
Mar 30, 2005:  Lawsuit threatened in Toledo-Oregon border dispute

Millions in potential tax revenue at stake from planned coke plant

TOLEDO -- "Oregon Mayor Marge Brown, upset by several developments yesterday, said she was considering a lawsuit. 'I'm going to give a call to my law director, and I think that's what we are going to have to do.' And Toledo Mayor Jack Ford contends that 'Oregon tried to rush me into a decision [on tax revenue sharing] before we found out that it was Toledo property.' How a final boundary might be drawn by a court could determine which city can claim a $350 million U.S. Coking Group factory and potentially millions in tax revenue," Christopher Kirkpatrick, Toledo Blade.
Mar 28, 2005:  New Sun Coke plant in Pennsylvania would put out 538 pounds of mercury a year

CAMBRIA TWP, PA -- "Sun Coke has proposed building a new coke plant in Cambria Township, Pennsylvania. The plant would be known as Cambria Coke, and would supply coke to International Steel Group. The proposed plant would emit approximately 538 pounds of mercury per year. Ohio EPA has recently limited a proposed permit for a similar coke plant in Oregon, Ohio to 36 pounds of mercury emissions per year from a proposed 680 tons per year. The proposed plant would also emit numerous other toxic chemicals, and could cause additional serious environmental hazards. Air emissions would affect not only Pennsylvania but other states as well. The public comment period on the permit is due to end today, but environmental organizations are asking the state for an extension and a public hearing," Sandy Buchanan, Ohio Citizen Action.

Background story on the plant
Mar 25, 2005:  Airport to restore skycap, limo service; Port board president gets 5% raise

TOLEDO -- "The port authority board also approved a lease amendment with CSX Transportation that will make land available at the port-owned coal docks to become the site of a controversial coke works. CSX has agreed to surrender 51.8 acres of its leasehold at the site back to the port authority in exchange for an extension of its lease for the rest of the coal dock property. The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway sold the docks to the port authority 40 years ago and leased them back until 2019. The lease extension and leasehold surrender will not occur if the U.S. Coking Group project does not go through. According to a port authority staff report, CSX has agreed to spend $76 million to improve rail facilities in the area to support the coke works if it is built -- spending that is proposed to be financed with port authority bonds," David Patch, Toledo Blade.
Mar 22, 2005:  Toledo, Oregon agree to share coke plant taxes

TOLEDO -- "In hopes of averting a border dispute that could kill plans for a $350 million coke processing plant, representatives of the cities of Toledo and Oregon have agreed to an equal split of tax revenues. The negotiations with Oregon follow closely on the heels of the discovery that the proposed site for the U.S. Coking Group appears to be inside the city of Toledo, rather than Oregon. Duck Creek, a stream that originates in Navarre Park in East Toledo and empties into the Maumee River near the Port of Toledo, has marked the traditional Toledo-Oregon border since 1957 when Oregon was incorporated. The creek runs along the west border of 51.5 acres of property owned by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority that would be leased to U.S. Coking Group. The company proposes to erect a plant that would produce coke, a key ingredient for the production of steel," Erika Ray, Toledo Blade.
MapMar 17, 2005:  Toledo lays claim to site proposed for Oregon steel-ingredient plant

TOLEDO -- "Oregon Mayor Marge Brown said she believes the potential for U.S. Coking to receive millions of dollars in federal tax credits is the real reason the border issue has been raised. Because Toledo is an 'impacted' area, meaning it has poor people, U.S. Coking Group could be eligible for federal tax credits if the project becomes a Toledo factory. 'The reason Toledo came in at the last minute is that U.S. Coking needs $32 million in tax credits. Toledo is an impacted city and Oregon is not,' she said," Christopher D. Kirkpatrick, Toledo Blade.
Man wearing a paper bag on his head
Toledo Port Authority officials are pinning their future on 'U.S. Coking Group', a company that will not reveal the identity of its top management or financial backers.
Feb 3, 2005:  Port of Toledo

Officials say coke plant is best hope for rebound

TOLEDO -- "After a fourth straight year of declining cargo volume, officials at the Port of Toledo say their best immediate hope for a rebound is a controversial coke works proposed for Oregon. 'As opposed to shaking our fists at God about things we can't control, we're going after things we can do to make a difference,' James Hartung, president of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, said yesterday. Dick Gabel, district vice president of the International Longshoremen's Association, said the proposed U.S. Coking Group plant would 'help tremendously' in reinvigorating the port. But the plant's fate appears to rest on pending environmental litigation concerning how much mercury and other pollution the plant may emit," David Patch, Toledo Blade.
Dec 15, 2004:  Ohio EPA director lauded as 'asset'

COLUMBUS -- "Mr. Jones was criticized - and praised - for his handling of the controversial U.S. Coking Group application this year to build a coke plant in Oregon. Criticism was directed at his order to Ohio EPA officials requiring them to work nights and weekends to help U.S. Coking Group beat a new federal ozone regulation. But ultimately he was praised for issuing a permit that set the mercury limit at an unprecedented 36 pounds a year. That amount is 95 percent less than what would have been allowed if a proposed limit of 680 pounds a year had been adopted. 'This was a case where the public raised the issue and the Ohio EPA responded,' Sandy Bihn of the Maumee Bay Association said. 'I don't think any coke plant will be permitted again without questioning mercury,'" Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
Jul 15, 2004: Company, Sierra Club each object to environmental guidelines
Opponents appeal Oregon coke plant permit

TOLEDO -- "[The Sierra Club, which filed its complaint against the permit Tuesday] lists a potential failure to monitor for air quality as a reason for its opposition to the construction permit, which was approved by the Ohio EPA on June 14, a day before new U.S. EPA air-quality standards went into effect. 'Many of the permit emission limits are practicably unenforceable due to inadequate monitoring, work practice, technology, and other compliance assurance requirements,' the appeal says. Sandy Bihn, an Oregon resident and local Sierra Club activist, said the mercury level in the permit could actually be set lower, adding that her area should be spared the pollution because it already is environmentally stressed from a coal-fired power plant and an oil refinery nearby," Christopher Kirkpatrick, Toledo Blade.
Jul 1, 2004: Ohio EPA questions if power plant impact overstated
Ohio's mercury emissions second in nation

TOLEDO -- "Federal records released last week show Ohio was the nation's No. 2 mercury emitter in 2002 behind Texas. And scientists nationally -- including those in the Great Lakes region -- maintain that coal-fired power plants are the heaviest emitters of that pollutant, which for years has been linked to childhood brain disorders. Yet despite pressure that state officials from Maine to California are now exerting on the Bush administration, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has taken a more industry-sympathetic position by questioning if the impact from power plants has been overstated. It also is calling upon the federal government to do more research before adopting more expensive regulations," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
Jun 23, 2004: Standards for coke plant very high

COLUMBUS -- "Now that Ohio EPA has issued a final air permit for the FDS Coke Plant in Oregon, I'd like to respond to a June 5 Blade article [which] says 'Ohio Environmental Protection Agency officials agree they are in an awkward position of trying to judge the application fairly, while not issuing a decision that could politically embarrass Mr. Taft.' No one at Ohio EPA ever made or agreed with that statement. Ohio EPA was never in an awkward position because we make our permit decisions based on what the law requires," Christopher Jones, Director, Ohio EPA, letter to the editor, Toledo Blade.
Jun 20, 2004: Oregon officials stand by FDS project
'Model' coke plant cited for emissions

For a century, the dirtiest industries have settled like crows on the city of East Chicago, Indiana: blast furnaces, rolling mills, tank farms, refineries and coke plants. Among these is the Indiana Harbor Coke Plant, the model for a proposed coke plant in Oregon, Ohio.
East Chicago
TOLEDO -- "A Chicago-area coke plant being held up as a model for the FDS Coke Plant in Oregon is listed in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency records as one of the Midwest's largest mercury emitters and has been cited by that government agency for potential 'high priority' violations of the Clean Air Act for another major pollutant, sulfur dioxide. . . .[Oregon Mayor Marge] Brown said she views the 10 outstanding U.S. EPA violations as being akin to speeding tickets: They'll encourage the Indiana Harbor facility to do better. . . . [Alex] Sagady, of Sagady and Associates Inc., said he believes the Ohio EPA was boxed into a no-win situation and set the mercury threshold artificially low to save face for its rapid approval of the permit. That leaves the door open for U.S. Coking Group to seek an increase after its FDS Coke Plant is built, he said. 'They imposed additional requirements on mercury, but I don't see how [U.S. Coking] is ever going to meet it with their current technology,' he said. 'We're concerned this is disingenuous permitting,'" Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

OREGON -- Sun Coke Company contends technology is better, J. Patrick Eaken, Eastern Maumee Bay Press, article dated June 18.

OREGON -- City officials offer praise for new coke plant, Kelly J. Kaczala, Eastern Maumee Bay Press, article dated June 18.
Jun 18, 2004: A coke plant compromise

TOLEDO -- "The coking plant people have yet to comment on the most stringent permit ever in Ohio for this kind of facility. Hopefully it won't temper their decision to go to Oregon, at a location near Millard Avenue and Otter Creek Drive, close to a FirstEnergy coal-fired power plant and not far from Sunoco Inc. and BP refineries. Actually, they shouldn't have been surprised by what OEPA did, given the multistate commitments that Great Lakes governors made in 1988 to reduce or eliminate mercury and six other pollutants from the inland waters," editorial, Toledo Blade.
Jun 15, 2004: But EPA lowers cap on mercury emissions
State approves Oregon coke plant

TOLEDO -- "The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency yesterday issued a construction permit for the FDS Coke Plant in Oregon. . . .The FDS Coke Plant wanted to release up to 680 pounds of mercury a year, but the Ohio EPA capped it at 36 pounds. The state agency also reduced the cumulative threshold for major pollutants, including lead and carbon monoxide by 1 million pounds a year to 7 million pounds," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

  • There are only two non-recovery coke plants in the United States. The plant in Indiana Harbor, Indiana, reports estimated annual emissions of 719 pounds per year, and the one in Vanasant, Virginia, reports 331 pounds per year.
DETROIT -- Ohio plant OK'd despite environmental concerns, Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press.
Jun 14, 2004: Coking plant closer to reality

TOLEDO -- "The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has given the green light to build a coking plant. The permit, issued Monday, will allow the coking plant to go up in Oregon near the B.P. plant. . . .Opponents of the plant can file an appeal. They can take the issue all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court," WTOL-TV Toledo.

TOLEDO -- Coking plant drawing debate among residents and officials, WUPW-TV Toledo.

COLUMBUS -- Ohio EPA issues air pollution permit for proposed FDS Coke Plant in Oregon, Mary McCarron, release, Ohio EPA.
Frank Stella
Frank Stella
To see just how shaky this project is, look at the first page of the final permit. It shows that Ohio EPA sent the permit to the U.S. Coking Group "offices" at 7000 Fenkell Avenue, Detroit. This is really the office of a food service and dining equipment business. Its owner, Frank Stella, said "he's involved as 'a big helper.' Three of his friends started the project two years ago and brought him on board, he said," (Crain's Detroit Business, May 28, 2004). Neither Stella nor anyone else will reveal who these friends are.

In the summary of comments, above, #214 asks:
"Are companies required to provide information to Ohio EPA concerning who is providing backing of any particular project? Response: For an air pollution permit application the answer is no. The only requirement that provides some knowledge concerning who is backing the project is the requirement that the application is signed by the duly authorized representative. This is required under Ohio Administrative Code 3745-31-04 (B). In this case, the application was signed by David Bryant, who has been identified as the authorized representative."
Note the switch to the passive voice in the last sentence: "who has been identified." Who identified Bryant as "authorized" and how did they know he was authorized?
Jun 12, 2004: Canada joins opposition to Oregon coke plant

Environment Canada logoOTTAWA, CANADA -- "Canada's federal environmental agency yesterday became the latest governmental entity to oppose plans for the FDS Coke Plant in Oregon. Environment Canada -- the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency -- said that pollutants drifting across Lake Erie could exacerbate air pollution in Windsor and other parts of Ontario, plus the lake's water quality. A similar claim on behalf of neighboring Monroe County and the Great Lakes in general was made June 3 by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.

OTTAWA, CANADA -- Feds raise alarm over plant; Environment Canada warns Toledo coke facility will emit toxins. "'We are disappointed with the lack of timely notification which did not allow the government of Canada to fully participate in the review of the permit,' said Sebastien Bois, spokesman for Environment Canada," Dave Battagello, Windsor Star.
Jun 10, 2004: Oregon mayor to lead contingent to coke plant

OREGON -- "Oregon Mayor Marge Brown said she plans to visit an Indiana coke plant today with Mike Sheehy, council president, and Ken Filipiak, city administrator, to get a firsthand look at the type of facility U.S. Coking Group LLC has proposed for their city. The trio is to join others, including a Chicago attorney who has helped U.S. Coking with its application, on a tour of an East Chicago, Ind., coke plant that is reputedly one of only two in the nation using a 'nonrecovery' process that helps trap pollutants and gases," Toledo Blade.

Ohio EPA coke plant decision due Friday
Please call Gov. Bob Taft's office today

His number is (614) 466-3555. Please let him know what you think of his Ohio EPA scrambling to approve a plant which would be one of the largest sources of mercury in the Great Lakes basin and the fifth largest in Ohio.
Jun 9, 2004: Some say pollutants could harm Lake Erie
Proposed factory sparks concerns

DETROIT -- "Alex Sagady, an East Lansing-based environmental consultant hired by Ohio environmental groups, said the plant violates several Great Lakes states' agreements designed to protect the lakes and safeguard against interstate transport of pollution. Ohio has bent the rules too far, he said: 'A plant like this would never get sited in Michigan,'" Hugh McDiarmid, Jr., Detroit Free Press.
Jun 8, 2004: Coke plant gives Oregon council some reservations

Oregon City Council

Oregon City Council: Back row left to right, Matt Szollosi, Jeff Keller, Mike Seferian, Jerry Peach, and Jim Seaman. Front row, Michael Sheehy, President of Council and Sharon Graffeo-Rudess.

OREGON -- "Councilman Jerry Peach asked if the identities of the investors in the U.S. Coking Group LLC, which has proposed the plant, would be released before the company asks for a tax abatement. So far, it has refused to do so. 'As a general rule, I like to know who I'm dealing with,' he said. David Bryant, financial adviser for the project, said that information would be made public after negotiations with 'the investor base' was complete," Toledo Blade.

TOLEDO -- More heat than light, editorial, Toledo Blade.
Jun 7, 2004: Key documents now on-line
Testimony from May 13 coke hearing available for review

OREGON -- "One group, Ohio Citizen Action, headed by Sandy Buchanan, is expressing concern that the procedures that led to the draft permit were tainted. Now the comment period has once again expired, and there is yet another local environment group forming with hopes of addressing concerns along the western basis of Lake Erie, the Maumee Bay Association, headed by former Oregon finance director Sandy Bihn. . . .Harbor View Councilman Carl Stanoyevic said: 'We don't want any more dust. We don't want any more dirt. The Village of Harbor View has written a resolution, a resolution opposing the proposed coke facility in Oregon, Ohio, whose prevailing winds will carry millions of pounds of pollutants annually and will seriously impact the health and welfare of the residents of Harbor View and the surrounding area. We're not the only people that live there. There are residents of Oregon that do live back there, and it's like they are forgotten by Oregon,'" J. Patrick Eaken, Eastern Maumee Bay Press.

  • Full transcript of May 13 hearing, Ohio EPA, 1.3 MB.
  • Comments, Draft Permit to Install, FDS Coke Plant, G. Vinson Hellwig, Chief, Air Quality Division, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, to Ohio EPA and Toledo Division of Environmental Services, June 3, 2004, 312 KB pdf.
  • Supplementary technical comments, Proposed Permit to Install, Proposed FDS Coke Oven Facility, Sierra Club Ohio Chapter to Ohio EPA and Toledo Division of Environmental Services, June 3, 2004, 148 KB pdf.
OREGON -- Local environmental group hopes to educate. "The group's members vary in age and experience, but some of the older members remember a day when you could eat as much Lake Erie fish as you wanted. They also remember some of the old factories once located in East Toledo and Oregon, such as a former coking plant that left dust and residue in its wake. 'It's (industrial emissions) not good for the environment, it's not good for the water shed, not good for people to breathe. The American Lung Association, an allergy and asthma organization, says we're the seventh worst city in the country when it comes to allergies and asthma,' [Maumee Bay Association member Sandra] Bihn contends," J. Patrick Eaken, Eastern Maumee Bay Press.
Jun 5, 2004: Governor tied to pact cited by Michigan
Oregon coke plant creates quandary for Taft, Ohio EPA

Gov. Bob TaftTOLEDO -- "A 1988 Great Lakes agreement that Michigan officials allege could be violated by the construction of the proposed $250 million FDS Coke Plant in Oregon was forged by a gubernatorial council that Gov. Bob Taft has chaired for three years. The Great Lakes States Air Permitting Agreement was drafted by the Council of Great Lakes Governors. Mr. Taft was installed as the council's chairman by other Great Lakes governors in June, 2001. Ohio Environmental Protection Agency officials agree they are in the awkward position of trying to judge the application fairly, while not issuing a decision that could politically embarrass Mr. Taft. . . The draft permit would allow 680 pounds of mercury to be discharged a year, giving the coke plant the potential of becoming one of the Midwest's largest mercury emitters. [U.S. Coking Group's consultant, John Hull] said the actual release would be substantially less, but said he will not specify an anticipated level because he believes it is proprietary information," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
Jun 4, 2004: Michigan officials object to Oregon coking plant

DEQ banner

TOLEDO -- "The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality yesterday filed several objections to the construction of the proposed FDS Coke Plant in Oregon, claiming the $250 million project could hurt neighboring Monroe County's air quality as well as that of the Great Lakes region in general. The Michigan DEQ said the 272-page draft permit, which the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency could finalize tomorrow, violates an agreement the eight Great Lakes governors signed Nov. 3, 1988, to curb airborne discharges of seven toxic substances, including mercury. . . U.S. Coking Group has had a former U.S. EPA regional administrator providing legal advice throughout much of the process. Francis Lyons, now a Chicago lawyer, is "an attorney on the team," Mr. Hull said. In January, Lucas County loaned the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority $500,000 at little or no interest for "site preparation, environmental remediation, or legal and/or project consultant fees," at the proposed U.S. Coking Group site along Lake Erie's Maumee Bay, north of Millard Avenue and between Duck and Otter creeks. Brian Schwartz, port authority spokesman, declined to say how much of the $500,000 loan has been spent and where the public taxpayer money has gone. Mr. Schwartz said the port authority was claiming it had a right to withhold that information as proprietary. Mr. Hull said he was not aware how much, if any of the taxpayer dollars were spent to pay the fees of Mr. Lyons, who declined to comment," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
Jun 3, 2004: Oregon coke plant debate simmers

TOLEDO -- "Fifteen environmental groups from Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ontario have urged the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to deny U.S. Coking Group LLC its permit to construct the facility. They cite a potential output of more than 8 million pounds of pollutants a year -- including as many as 680 pounds of mercury a year -- that they believe could endanger public health and be a major source of pollution for the Great Lakes sport fishing. . . . [The applicant's consultant, John Hull, president of Hull & Associates Inc. of Toledo] said U.S. Coking does not plan to release its projected discharge of mercury because the U.S. EPA has not established limits for it. . . .The Ohio EPA said there is "no way" it can determine, on average, how effective scrubbers would be at reducing mercury. 'That's why we're using the 680-pound number,' Dina Pierce, Ohio EPA spokesman, said. 'The honest truth is we don't know what the actual number will be,'" Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
Jun 2, 2004: Comments on the proposed coke plant
"As an oncology nurse at St. Charles for 13 years I've watched numerous Oregon residents without risk factors develop cancer"

TOLEDO -- Some letters-to-the-editor of the Toledo Blade on the proposed U.S. Coking Group plant:
    St. Charles Mercy Hospital
  • "I lived in Oregon from 1994-2002. In 2000 I developed breast cancer and strongly feel it was caused from industry in Oregon. I was 38, with no risk factors. Three mothers were diagnosed in my son's fifth-grade class that same year with breast cancer. In 2002 we felt our health was in danger from the toxic pollution and we moved to Michigan. We have never regretted that decision. As an oncology nurse at St. Charles for 13 years I've watched numerous Oregon residents without risk factors develop cancer." -- Kerry Berlincourt, Petersburg, MI

  • "What the public was not told is that this plant (or any plant) can't possibly be built without strict emission controls." -- Tom Kovacik, Knightshill Lane

  • "By issuing a draft permit to install, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has determined that the proposed operation will meet all appropriate air rules, which are set to protect our health and the environment. Are we saying the Ohio EPA, Toledo Environmental Services Agency, and the U.S. EPA Region V are incompetent?" -- Mayor Marge Brown, City of Oregon
If you want to tell the government what you think of the proposed coke plant, your comments must be postmarked no later than Thursday, June 3, and addressed to Matt Stanfield, Toledo Division of Environmental Services, 348 South Erie Street, Toledo, Ohio 43602. Its best to write from your own point of view with your own words. Here is a sample letter to get you started, 21 KB doc.
Jun 1, 2004: Public comment period ends Thursday
Great Lakes environmental, public health leaders blast proposed U.S. Coking Group plant

Great Lakes

OREGON -- "The proposed coke plant will be a new source of at least seven of the 22 priority Great Lakes pollutants identified by these programs including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, nickel and PAHs. The permit application calculates a combined total emission of 6.69 tons per year of these and other hazardous air pollutants. . . . According to the permit application, the FDS facility would discharge up to 680 pounds of mercury into the air annually, making it one of the largest sources of mercury in the Great Lakes basin and the fifth largest in the state of Ohio. The draft permit has no monitoring provisions for mercury and includes no limits for mercury and other hazardous air pollutants," Tim Brown, T.J. Holsen, Delta Institute/Lake Erie Forum; David Higby, Environmental Advocates of New York; Marty Visnosky, Erie County Environmental Coalition (PA); Margaret Wooster, Great Lakes consultant; Annette Marshall, Lake Erie-Allegheny Earth Force; Tom Fuhrman, Lake Erie Region Conservancy (PA); Sandra Bihn, Maumee Bay Association; David Dempsey Michigan Environmental Council; Zoe Lipman, Michael Murray National Wildlife Federation, Great Lakes Program; Sandy Buchanan, Ohio Citizen Action; Vicki Deisner/Molly Flanagan, Ohio Environmental Council; Elaine Marsh, Friends of the Crooked River; Sr. Pat Lupo, OSB, PA Lake Erie Watershed Association; Marilyn Wall, Ohio Chapter Sierra Club; Pollution Probe, Toronto, Canada, 32 KB doc, dated May 27.

OREGON -- The real evidence is in real data collected at operating sites. "There are only two operating nonrecovery coke plants in the United States. One is an old coke plant converted to nonrecovery in Vansant, Virginia, the other is a plant built in 1999 in Indiana Harbor, Indiana. The Virginia nonrecovery coke plant has 143 ovens; the Indiana nonrecovery coke plant has 260 ovens. The facility proposed here would have 240 ovens. The toxic release inventory for the two existing plants shows an annual air release of 330 pounds of mercury at the Virginia site and 719 pounds at the Indiana site. The mercury emissions at the operating sites are in par with the estimated numbers here," Sandy Bihn, President, Maumee Bay Association, letter to Robert C. Stevenson, Director, Department of Public Utilities, City of Toledo, 32 KB doc, dated May 29.

EAST LANSING, MI -- FDS Coke oven. "Given that Ohio EPA and Toledo Environmental Services never sought any information to be submitted at all about coal to be charged at FDS, this lack of information should give some pause on the condensible particulate matter issue (as well as the possibility that this source is major for hazardous air pollutants as a result of hydrogen chloride and hydrogen fluoride not being considered). . . I am attaching two documents. One is the "venting report" on how and why Indiana Harbor ran into problems on this count. The other is a charming little incident of 168 hours of venting by all 16 of the duct vents at Indiana Harbor after a power outage," Alex Sagady, Alex J. Sagady and Associates, email with attachments to Toledo and Ohio environmental officials.
  • Indiana Harbor Venting Report, Indiana Harbor Coke Company, Cokenergy Inc., Radian International, Oct 18, 2000, 536 KB pdf.

  • Malfunction Report, Indiana Harbor Coke Company, East Chicago, Indiana, to Office of Air Management, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Oct 29, 1999, 66 KB pdf.
If you want to weigh in on the proposed coke plant, your comments must be postmarked no later than Thursday, June 3, and addressed to Matt Stanfield, Toledo Division of Environmental Services, 348 South Erie Street, Toledo, Ohio 43602. Its best to write from your own point of view with your own words; here is a sample letter to get you started, 21 KB doc.
May 27, 2004: Coke plant investors explore tax break

OREGON -- "'After negotiations with representatives from the Oregon [City] School District, we have reached an agreement that will provide your company a net abatement of real and personal property tax obligations of 56 percent over the designated period of 10 years," [Oregon city Administrator Ken] Filipiak wrote to U.S. Coking Group on March 11. 'To accomplish this, the city will enter into an enterprise zone agreement with U.S. Coking Group LLC that will provide 100 percent abatement over a 10-year period, but will require annual payments to the Oregon City School District and city of Oregon … equaling 44 percent of the total taxes abated.' Mr. Filipiak said yesterday the company hasn't officially applied for the tax abatement, which would have to be approved by Oregon City Council, the school board, and the Lucas County commissioners," Ignazio Messina, Toledo Blade.

OREGON -- "The estimated large discharge of mercury alone is reason to oppose the requested permit," Sandy Bihn, Sierra Club Western Lake Erie, letter to local elected officials, dated May 26.

EAST LANSING, MI -- Mercury emissions from the proposed FDS Coke ovens, Alexander J. Sagady, Environmental Consultant, memo to Sandra Bihn, Sierra Club of Ohio, dated May 24, 61 KB pdf.
May 24, 2004: Ohio EPA extends comment period on coke plant

OREGON -- "Citizens requested the extension as a result of new information received on May 3, according to Dina Pierce of the Ohio EPA. 'At the request of the public, Ohio EPA is further extending the public comment period for this permit from May 24 to June 3.' The new information, she said, is the company's request to adjust emissions calculations. 'The major change is they want to switch from a baghouse to a multiclone. The multiclone will be more effective than the baghouse in controlling emissions because of the extremely high temperatures and moisture.' The multiclone will increase some emissions while reducing others, she added," Kelly Kaczala, Eastern Maumee Bay News.
May 21, 2004: Ohio EPA extends comment time for coke plant

OREGON -- "The comment period for Oregon's proposed FDS Coke Plant was extended through June 3, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said yesterday. . . .The coke plant, proposed by U.S. Coking Group, will be permitted to discharge more than 8 million pounds of pollutants into the air each year. The figures were cited in the draft permit, which was written in fewer than three weeks and reviewed at the Ohio EPA's headquarters less than a week. At those levels, the plant will be among Ohio's biggest emitters of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and mercury. But a consultant representing the applicant says the figures cited in the draft permit are only worst-case scenario numbers. He has said the emissions will be substantially less because of pollution controls, although he declined to say by how much," Toledo Blade.
May 17, 2004: Questions about additional air pollution restrictions on proposed "U.S. Coking Group" plant

OREGON -- "What would be the difference between the level of emissions contained in the current draft permit, and the level of emissions which would be allowable if the permit were to be granted after June 15, 2004? Please compare the net affect on air pollution which would be allowed for the permit if issued before and after June 15, 2004, and list the types of emissions which are included," Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action, letter to Christopher Jones, Director, Ohio EPA.
May 15, 2004: Coking hearing packs Oregon Council Chambers

AudienceOREGON -- "[Mike Hopkins of the Division of Air Pollution Control] and officials from Toledo Environmental Services also admitted that they did not know who the actual investors were behind U.S. Coking Group, LLC, the company proposing to build and operate the plant. The officials indicated it is not required for the EPA to have information on who the investors are; the only requirement for the permit to be processed was to have the name and address of a person representing the firm for legal purposes. Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director of the consumer group Ohio Citizens Action, said in a letter to several public officials that statements identify Frank Stella, Chairman and CEO of the F.D. Stella Products Company in Detroit, as the lead investor of U.S. Coking Group, LLC. Stella Products design and distribute food service and dining equipment. . . [Sandy Bihn, former City of Oregon Finance Director and C.J. Smith, Oregon] say the draft permit indicates eight million pounds of additional pollutants will be released into the environment by the coke plant. They argue that Lucas County already ranks among the dirtiest and worst 10 percent of all counties in the U.S. in terms of air releases of recognized developmental toxicants," J. Patrick Eaken, Eastern Maumee Bay Press, article dated May 17, 2004.
May 14, 2004: Opponents, supporters spar over coking plant EPA forum in Oregon draws packed house

"There will not be 680 pounds of mercury [a year] emitted, so it's just not accurate" -- Toledo Mayor Jack Ford
Jack Ford
OREGON -- "Henry Fleischmann, a Walbridge resident, asked Ohio EPA officials about a report that U.S. Coking Group LLC's proposed facility potentially could emit 680 pounds of mercury a year. 'You are going to make a few jobs and make thousands of people sick,' he said before a standing-room only crowd of about 200. 'There is so much pollution, it's pitiful.' The facility would be allowed, by permit, to discharge more than 8 million pounds of pollutants into air. It would be built between Duck and Otter creeks, where the Maumee River meets the Maumee Bay. . . Opponents criticized the Ohio EPA for rushing the permit process and blasted the project for its environmental ramifications. 'We look for leadership from our government, not a permitting mill,' said lawyer Terry Lodge of Spencer Township. 'I guarantee you that people profiting aren't going to be living here, breathing the air,'" Toledo Blade.

COLUMBUS -- Ohio EPA says it doesn't know who is behind the U.S. Coking Group. "Ohio EPA does not know who is backing this project. U.S. Coking Group has not provided that information to this Agency," Christopher Jones, Director, Ohio EPA, letter to Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action, dated May 11, 2004.
May 13, 2004: New plant dividing Oregon residents

OREGON -- "The history of polluting Coking Plants may be affecting public opinion. Some Oregon residents do not want a 350-million dollar coking plant in their area. They fear the worst, Coking Plants have a horrible history of belching dirt and soot into the air. While this plant is promised to have state of the art equipment to greatly reduce emissions. Some residents are upset the Ohio EPA admits accelerating the permit process to help the plant beat tougher EPA standards soon going into effect," Toledo TV 13 ABC.
May 12, 2004: 
The good news: Squabbling Toledo-area politicians are finally united on something.

The bad news: That something is hiding the real identity of the "U.S. Coking Group."

DrawingTOLEDO -- "On April 26, Sandy Buchanan, Ohio Citizen Action Executive Director, wrote to all public officials in Ohio involved in the "U.S. Coking Group" undertaking, noting that 'never in Ohio history has the government at all levels gone to such extremes to run interference for a project whose backers' identity remains concealed from the public.' . . . The letter asked each official -- (1) Do you know who the real backers of 'U.S. Coking Group' are? (2) If so, who are they? and (3) Why has this information been withheld from the public to this date? Their answers are tallied below. The new coke plant hasn't even been built, yet it already emits an odor that can be smelled all over the county," Ohio Citizen Action.

TOLEDO -- Proposed coke plant could pose mercury risk. "Besides making the region's smog problem worse, the proposed FDS Coke Plant in Oregon could instantly become one of the Midwest's largest sources of airborne mercury, a pollutant long targeted for removal from the Great Lakes region. Records show U.S. Coking Group LLC's proposed facility has the potential of emitting 680 pounds of mercury a year. No source in Lucas County comes close, not even the coal-fired Bay Shore power plant that FirstEnergy Corp. operates in Oregon. The coke plant's output could rival that of Detroit Edison Co.'s coal-fired power plant in Monroe, one of the nation's largest facilities of its kind. The latter emitted 755 pounds of mercury in 2001, according to data the utility reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Environmental ramifications of the proposed coke project will be the focus of an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency hearing at 7 p.m. tomorrow in Oregon City Council chambers," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
May 11, 2004: Thursday public hearing set on proposed Oregon coke plant

Toledo Coke

Above, the site of the old Toledo Coke plant, across the Maumee River from Toledo's Jamie Farr Park. "Toledo's last coke works, Toledo Coke Co., closed in 1993, leaving behind benzene pits and other by-products of pollution that required a $10 million cleanup," (Coke plant on fast track to beat EPA regulations, Tom Henry, Toledo Blade).

The proposed new U.S. Coking Group plant would produce over three times more pollution than the old Toledo Coke plant.

OREGON -- "Please attend a public hearing Thursday, May 13, 7:00 p.m. at Oregon Council Chambers on the proposed U.S. Coking Group plant. The permit states the volume and type of pollutants emitted into the air: 8 million pounds per year, or 22,143 pounds per day: dust, dirt, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg smell), lead and toxics," Sandy Bihn, Maumee Bay Association.
  • Here's another way you can help: Please print this petition opposing the coke plant, and circulate it to your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Thanks.
May 10, 2004: U.S. Coking Group confidentiality claim lasts 24 hours

Francis Lyons
Francis X. Lyons
CHICAGO, IL -- "On behalf of Labyrinth Management Group and U.S. Coking Goup, I am writing to withdraw the claim of confidentiality asserted in my letter of May 6, 2004, for information submitted to the Ohio EPA on April 30, 2004, as part of the FDS Coke Plant Prevention of Significant Determination permit application. Our claim was asserted due to concerns related to confidentiality agreements with potential third party vendors. Upon further reflection, we withdraw the confidentiality claim. Please disreagrd my previous letter asserting the claim," Francis Lyons, Gardner Carton and Douglas to Matthew Stanfield, environmental engineer, City of Toledo, letter dated May 7.

May 6, 2004: State, regional environmental leaders to Ohio EPA Director Christopher Jones:

Hit the brakes on U.S. Coking Group permit

COLUMBUS -- ". . . Labyrinth Management Group, on behalf of U.S. Coking Group, LLC is requesting changes in the permit terms. They have requested that the information to support the requested changes containing emissions information be handled as 'confidential business information.' The proposed facility is very complex, and ongoing revisions are being made to the draft permit. Under Ohio EPA's current schedule for this permit, both the public hearing and public comment period would be over before Ohio EPA has even made a final decision on the confidential business information claim. Therefore, we believe that it is Ohio EPA's duty to stop the current permit process for the U.S. Coking plant and restart it whenever the permit is complete and ready for public inspection," Sandy Bihn, Maumee Bay Association; Teresa Mills, Buckeye Environmental Network; Sandy Buchanan, Ohio Citizen Action; Anthony Szilagye, Northwest Ohio Sierra Club; Vicki Deisner, Ohio Environmental Council; Zoe Lipman, National Wildlife Federation; letter to Christopher Jones, Director, Ohio EPA.
May 4, 2004: Proposed U.S. Coking Group plant would produce over three times more pollution than the old Toledo Coke plant

OREGON -- "The Maumee Bay Association has compared the draft permit for the proposed new U.S. Coking Group plant with the records of the old Toledo Coke plant, which closed in 1993. The chart below shows that the new plant would produce over three times more pollution than the old plant. . . .The new U.S. Coking Group plant would produce 5,672,967 pounds more pollutants a year than the old Toledo Coke plant. Volatile organic compounds are less, and all other categories are significantly more, with lots more dust, nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide. The old plant produced about 200,000 tons of coke a year where the new will produce 1.25 million tons of coke a year. The Ohio EPA will hold a public meeting on the proposed new coke plant on Thursday, May 13 at 7:00p.m. in the Oregon Council Chambers 5330 Seaman Rd., Oregon, Ohio," Sandy Bihn, Maumee Bay Association.
Apr 29, 2004:  Ohio EPA's Title V record on trial;
Environmental groups say state agency drags its feet on permits

TOLEDO -- "For example, the BP refinery in Oregon and FirstEnergy Corp.'s coal-fired Bay Shore power plant both submitted their Title V permit applications to the Ohio EPA in September, 1996. More than 7 1/2 years later, neither have had their paperwork finalized. . . . Contrast those time lags with how swiftly things went for U.S. Coking Group LLC's proposal to build a coke plant in Oregon: The agency whipped out a 272-page draft permit to build the plant after only a week of review by its headquarters, even though such a facility would emit a whopping 8 million pounds of pollutants a year," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
Apr 26, 2004: Who is "U.S. Coking Group"?

CLEVELAND -- "As someone involved in the 'U.S. Coking Group' undertaking, you may have noticed something: Never in Ohio history has the government at all levels gone to such extremes to run interference for a project whose backers' identity remains concealed from the public. . . . Surely the public -- in whose name you have been doing all this -- deserves answers to some basic questions: (1) Do you know who the real backers of "U.S. Coking Group" are? (2) If so, who are they? (3) Why has this information been withheld from the public to this date?," Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action, letter to each public official involved in the U.S. Coking Group deal.
Apr 25, 2004: State EPA helped rush plan for local coke plant

SkunkTOLEDO -- "The proposed facility would discharge more than 8 million pounds of pollutants into air already considered too smoggy by upcoming federal standards. . . The Ohio EPA reduced its normal review process of six months or longer to fewer than three weeks. In doing so, agency staffers and representatives of the city of Toledo's Environmental Services division incurred more than $29,000 in overtime costs. . . Teresa Mills, executive director of the Columbus-based Buckeye Environmental Network, said she has 'never, ever, ever' seen an application of such magnitude breeze through the state regulator's hands so quickly in her decade-plus of tracking Ohio EPA permit reviews. 'As my grandmother used to say: 'When you look at a skunk head-on, it looks like a cat. It's only when you step back that you see it's a skunk,'' she said. 'Something stinks here.' . . .Sandy Buchanan, Ohio Citizen Action's executive director, said she fears political pressures have clouded the review process, resulting in the Ohio EPA staff's rapid review of the U.S. Coking permit application. 'This is an agency that has never seen a permit it doesn't like,' she said. 'I don't think it's possible for any thorough, credible review,'" Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
Apr 24, 2004: U.S. Coking Group presents plans to port authority

TOLEDO -- "The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will hold a public information session and hearing May 13 to accept comments on the company's draft permit for coke batteries. If approved, the permit would allow U.S. Coking to install four batteries, consisting of 240 coke ovens that could produce as much as 1.44 million tons of coke. The permit would regulate carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, lead, and what the EPA calls 'hazardous air pollutants.' Coke, which is derived from coal, is a principal component in making steel. It's used to heat blast furnaces," Larry Limpf, East Maumee Bay Press, article dated Apr 26.
Apr 23, 2004: Coke firm aims to start building east-side plant by end of the year

TOLEDO -- "Three weeks after confirming it planned to build a coke plant straddling the Toledo-Oregon line, U.S. Coking Group offered an ambitious timetable: breaking ground by the end of the year. The firm's financial adviser, David Bryant, told a meeting of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority's board of directors yesterday that the firm expected its installation permit to be cleared by state regulators in 30 to 45 days, allowing it to begin lining up investors and getting plans approved for the plant, estimated to cost $300 million to $350 million. In his first address to the port authority board, Mr. Bryant credited cooperation from local government agencies and U.S. Coking Group, which consists of about a dozen principals and is headed by Detroit developer Frank Stella. The plant will be built on port authority-owned land east of Duck Creek and northeast of Millard Avenue. . . Toledo's last coke plant, Toledo Coke Co., required a $10 million cleanup of benzene pits and other contamination after it closed in 1993," Toledo Blade.
  • Never heard of 'U.S. Coking Group'? We haven't either. That's because it is a front for whoever is really behind this project. Stay tuned, and we may find out who that is.
Apr 22, 2004: Proposed coking plant on the river;
Is it another dirty smokestack or a clean burning facility?

TOLEDO -- "Area resident Frank Reynolds says, 'We're saturated! We don't need another one. We've already got five different companies here that's polluting the air, and probably the worst thing is they're trying to sneak it in before the new [U.S. EPA regulations] come into effect.' . . . Your first chance to weigh in on this is likely to be at a permit hearing next month. We'll keep you posted. The company's still looking for investors. It's also asking for tax breaks, and may hit Ohio up for money to train its workers," Toledo TV-13 ABC.
Apr 13, 2004: State approves permit for Oregon coke plant

OREGON -- "'We got a call today that they approved the draft PTI, which means permit to install, for the emissions,' [Oregon Administrator Kenneth Filipiak] said. 'That means there will be a 30-day public comment period followed by a public hearing May 13 tentatively at the city [municipal] building.' The permit gives the company authority to construct their facility, he said," Ignazio Messina, Toledo Blade.
Apr 5, 2004: East Toledo, Oregon's gain

TOLEDO -- "Celebration is appropriate following the announcement that one of the first coke plants built in America in many years will go up in this region, astride the Oregon-Toledo line east of Duck Creek and northeast of Millard Avenue," editorial, Toledo Blade.
Apr 6, 2004: Coke plant on fast track to beat EPA regulations;
Proposed facility would employ 150

OREGON -- "Tough new smog regulations will likely put the Toledo area up against a now-or-never deadline for major industrial growth, putting the state environmental review of a proposed $200 million-plus coke plant on a fast track. 'We're trying to get the draft permit out quickly,' Dina Pierce, Ohio EPA spokesman, said yesterday in reference to an air pollution permit application submitted March 26 by U.S. Coking Group, L.L.C.," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
Mar 31, 2004: East-side site chosen for plant;
Proposed coke facility straddles Toledo-Oregon line

TOLEDO -- "U.S. Coking Group, L.L.C., chaired by Detroit businessman Frank Stella, announced yesterday that it had selected Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority property near the Port of Toledo and several railroad yards as its "primary site over several others in the United States," David Patch, Toledo Blade.
Mar 26, 2004: Port urged to move forward on 'vision';
Leader vows to have outline for overhaul

TOLEDO -- "In other business, the port authority agreed to lease up to 150 acres of riverfront land in East Toledo, for $1,500 an acre, to U.S. Coking Group for a $256 million coke production plant there. The firm has not yet committed to build the plant in Toledo, but said the city is its first choice for the facility, which would create 140 permanent jobs," Joe Mahr, Toledo Blade.
Feb 27, 2004: What technology would a new Toledo coking plant employ?

TOLEDO -- "U.S. Coking has three sites nationwide it is considering, including one on the Toledo-Oregon border, east of Duck Creek and northeast of Millard Avenue. It has not identified the other two," Jon Chavez, Toledo Blade.
Jan 14, 2004: Lucas County offers $500,000 to attract coke plant

TOLEDO -- "The county loaned the money to the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority to help clean and prepare a site east of the Maumee River on the Toledo-Oregon line for the U.S. Coking Group," Toledo Blade.
Nov 7, 2003: Officials move to lure coal-processing plant to area

TOLEDO -- "Two other, undisclosed sites are being considered -- one in the Midwest and the other in the East," Toledo Blade.
Nov 1, 2003: Good news -- for somebody

TOLEDO -- "Oregon leaders are bending over backward to accommodate the undertaking, even offering to supply water from its expanded treatment plant to support the coke facility," editorial, Toledo Blade.
Oct 22, 2003: Port site in running for coal-coke plant

TOLEDO -- "U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) said she supports the new plant because it will provide 'good jobs with good wages.' Her staff has worked on the project with investors and local officials for about six months," Mike Wiilkinson, Rachel Zinn, Toledo Blade.