Treva Gear, founder of Concerned Citizens of Cook County, said she was “ecstatic” over the judge’s decision to hear the evidence.
“It felt like it was the first time we’ve had a true opportunity for justice,” she said. “We’re about to actually be heard by somebody who can do something.”
Representatives for Spectrum, which is also party to the case, did not respond to requests for comment. A representative of Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, whose office is representing EPD, declined to comment citing pending litigation.
Jennifer Whitfield, a senior attorney in the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Georgia office, said construction of the plant would worsen “the historic environmental discrimination on the Black and Brown community next door.”
“The agency has a duty to administer permits in a nondiscriminatory manner,” she said in an emailed statement. “The residents who face the risk of breathing polluted air, all for Spectrum’s profits, deserve a say.”
That hearing is currently scheduled for Dec. 12-16.
Wood pellets have become a popular commodity in the forest-rich southern U.S. over the past 15 years. The vast majority are shipped overseas to be burned as fuel for power generation. The United Kingdom and the European Union in particular have embraced burning wood — often referred to as biomass — as a renewable alternative to coal, but many climate scientists say it’s harmful for the environment.
Pellet mills like the ones proposed for Adel do not burn the pellets on site. Rather, the dispute centers on the local impacts on surrounding communities of manufacturing the pellets.
The state permit application filed by Spectrum says the plant will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and emit particulates and hazardous pollutants. Because of its size and the quantity of pollutants, it will have to apply for an additional permit under what is known as the Title V program within 12 months of operation.
A note of disclosure
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