From: Jim Suhr, Associated Press
Published October 7, 2004 12:00 AM

Environmental Groups Drop Efforts to Block Missouri Cement Plant

ST. LOUIS, Missouri — Environmental groups said this week they have abandoned a four-year legal effort to block construction of one of the world's largest cement plants.

In return, developer Holcim Inc. agreed to an easement on nearly 2,000 acres around much of the plant that will prevent any new development on the land for a century. The company also will provide up to $3 million for regional environmental projects.

Environmentalists have argued that the $600 million project along the Mississippi River, about 40 miles south of St. Louis, would pollute the river, destroy wetlands, and threaten the region's compliance with federal clean air standards.

In June, the state issued the last major permit necessary for the construction, which Switzerland-based Holcim expects to begin next year.

"We're content with the provisions of the settlement," said Ted Heisel of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, among the four suing groups. "It was time to put this fight behind us."

Holcim has said it plans an environmentally efficient plant, claiming that was borne out by the state's evaluation and approval.

Holcim's payout will include $1.8 million for land conservation in Missouri and Illinois. More than $900,000 will go toward air quality monitoring and energy efficiency projects.

None of that money would be paid to the four environmental groups, they said.

Source: Associated Press

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