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Tribe fights $400M waste-to-energy suit

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Oneida Tribe of Indians is challenging a lawsuit seeking nearly $400 million over a stalled project to build a plant that would turn household garbage into energy.

Press-Gazette Media reports that the March lawsuit filed by Generation Clean Fuels LLC says the company signed on to partner with the tribe-owned Oneida Seven Generations Corp. in a proposed Green Bay trash-recycling plant. It also says the Illinois-based company agreed to lease equipment for the plant.

Oneida Seven Generations planned to build a waste-to-energy plant that would process common household trash at high temperatures through the process of gasification. The concept has been hailed by supporters as an environmentally friendly energy alternative, while critics have said it would pollute communities and pose other health risks.

The project was halted after Green Bay officials withdrew a permit due to emissions concerns.

Oneida attorneys argue that neither the tribe nor its company signed contractual agreements with Generation Clean Fuels. They said contracts were signed by Green Bay Renewable Energy LLC, a tribal affiliate, without the knowledge of Oneida leaders.

“The tribe’s Business Committee — which is (the) delegated governing authority of the tribe — had no knowledge of, and did not even see the agreements, until well after they were executed,” said a brief filed in the case.

The tribe also argues that corporate law does not apply to the Oneidas and the case should not be filed in Illinois since the business venture was planned in Wisconsin.

Gerald Dombrowski, an attorney for Generation Clean Fuels, said the company will respond to the tribe’s motion in court.

“We continue to believe that we have a very solid case against the tribe and its entities,” Dombrowski said.

The suit is pending in Chicago’s Cook County Circuit Court.

Information from: Press-Gazette Media, http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com

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