Nebraska advances $1 million for study on Mead ethanol plant’s effects on health, environement

Sen. Carol Blood's bill moves forward

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska could spend up to $1 million to study the long-term health and environmental consequences of a troubled ethanol plant under a bill advanced Thursday by lawmakers.

Lawmakers gave the measure first-round approval on a 34-4 vote.

The proposal by State Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue would allow University of Nebraska researchers to continue existing work around the AltEn plant near Mead, about 40 miles north of Lincoln.

The plant has a long history of environmental problems and has drawn complaints from Mead residents since shortly after it opened in 2015.

Mead resident Tanner Langemeier said it wasn’t until the ethanol plant was shut down in February 2021 that he learned of information shared with residents about contamination.

“We need to trust that people are going to reach out to us when it directly affects us,” he said. “They did a terrible job of letting us know this was happening. I take a lot of pride in my community, my small town that I come from, and I hate to see it be struck by disaster, and it’s really unfortunate.”

The plant was created to process old, pesticide-laced seed corn that is unsuitable for use as an animal feed supplement.

The university’s research team will continue to assess the adverse long-term effects on human health and the environment from the chemicals released during the production of ethanol at the plant.

The bill was folded into a package aimed at recruiting more behavioral health professionals to parts of the state that need them.

The bill has two more rounds to pass before being sent to the governor’s desk.

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