INDIANAPOLIS — Citizens are the final line of defense against misdeeds by business and government. Often these social soldiers are derided as cranks obsessed with unwarranted concerns of environmental, health, and safety matters.
         
Business and government are simultaneously seen as irresponsible and unresponsive. They plunder, endanger, defile, and destroy communities too weak or too greedy to resist the “investments” being proposed.
         
These conflicts characterize American history. Early on, with so much open land and little understanding of nature, questionable “progress” was invited to move further away, somewhere down stream, somewhere out of sight. But real progress is an inexorable force benefiting many despite any adverse consequences for the few.
         
Thus, Indiana and much of America “developed” until density overwhelmed “destiny.” With less and less land open for “development” and more and more educated, sensitive people, “investment” is not an easy buy, build and prosper matter. There are now government and private oversight hurdles to master.
         
So it was for WSP (Waelz Sustainable Products) in Muncie recently. There, a plant to recycle steel mill by-products, in a former Borg-Warner facility, was rejected only after community guardians raised concern about mercury and zinc emissions. These pesky “protesters” included scientific researchers who challenged misleading “zero-emission” claims by the company.
         
Today, WSP is trying to advance virtually the same project further north on U.S. 35 in Cass County. Again, aroused and informed citizens are in opposition to WSP, a 2018 joint venture by two family-owned, experienced international recycling companies.
         
The American partner is Heritage, with locations in 17 states, including four in Indiana, headquartered in Indianapolis. The irony is Heritage maintains a sophisticated, convincing business website which details the services and philosophy of the organization.
         
Then why was WSP challenged in Muncie and Cass County? According to the company, they were defeated by a “campaign of misinformation.” With all the positives proudly proclaimed on the Heritage website, why can’t the toddler WSP present a convincing case to the public in Muncie and Cass County?
           
Misrepresentation by business and government about projects they wish to develop is sadly endemic and creates persistent distrust. For WSP to deny their recycling project would emit toxic contaminants in Muncie but admitting such on their application to Indiana’s EPA agency, was not just a singular error. It was breach of the public trust all organizations must establish.
         
Ultimate liability rests with the State of Indiana, the governor’s office, and, in this case with IEDC (the Indiana Economic Development Corporation). Before IEDC introduces suitors to Hoosier communities, offering subsidies to those companies, encouraging local cooperation and subsides, those firms should be fully vetted.
         
Heritage has a 50-year history yielding a substantial record of performance. No Indiana city or county has the resources to certify the environmental, health, safety, and financial credentials of every firm seeking public support. The state should have and apply such resources on our behalf.
         
We should thank our “protesters” for their diligence and persistence. Go, cranks, go! 

Mr. Marcus is an economist. Reach him at mortonjmarcus@yahoo.com. Follow his views and those of John Guy on “Who gets what?” wherever podcasts are available or at mortonjohn.libsyn.com.