Archived Opinion

Methane gas project at old landfill is all good

It’s not always about the money, at least not at first. That’s a point to keep in mind as the methane gas recovery project in Jackson County continues to move forward.

Last week a Smoky Mountain News reporter asked folks in the Yancey-Mitchell county area if the Energy Xchange — a methane gas artist co-op similar to what’s being planned in Jackson County — had produced a tangible economic impact on the area. The answer was, well, a less-than-definitive “maybe.”

That, however, is no reason to think that the Jackson County project won’t be a success. There are many reasons that lead us to believe this landfill gas recovery project will be a smashing success. Here’s a few to consider.

One is location. The co-op will be near Dillsboro and so will feed off that village’s already solid reputation as a shopping destination for handmade, artisan-created items. Whether it’s the Dogwood Crafters, the Riverwood Studios or the other individual artists, Dillsboro’s reputation in this sector is well-established. And, it will be near several major highways that intersect around Dillsboro. That will make it easy for those interested in visiting the co-op.

Then there’s the burgeoning popularity of green communities, green power and all things environmentally-friendly. The fact that this energy will be harnessed from the remains of yesterday’s trash is, well, cool. When people talk about recycling, this is as good as it gets. And today’s travelers and shoppers are placing an ever-higher priority on the ethical aspects of their choices. Purchasing goods made from kilns and blowers powered by landfill gases will make these items even more unique.

And if Dillsboro does end up keeping its dam and turning it into some micro hydropower site, then the dual appeal of the methane gas and the green hydropower will, in themselves, attract people to the area.

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Third, and perhaps most important, is the community support for this project. People like Stacey Hepp, current president of the Dillsboro Merchants Association, said she and other merchants in Dillsboro are excited about the county’s role in this project and the leadership of Timm Muth. The DMA may not be able to actively participate since the site is outside town limits, but the methne-fueled co-op will be another drawing card that will enhance projects the DMA is already involved with. Hepp also thinks the artists co-op could act as a magnet for workshops that will bolster the arts community as a whole.

In fact, there’s really no downside to this methane project. It’s an innovative idea that fits nicely with the heritage-related, authentic Appalachian niche Jackson County is carving out for itself in the tourism market.

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