Joint Statement from NAACP, EEECHO (Mississippi), Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), Healthy Gulf, Mississippi State Climate Reality Project, The People’s Justice Council and Dogwood Alliance in response to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality Approving the Permit for World’s Largest Pellet Mill
The people of Mississippi were dealt a tremendous injustice at the meeting of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality’s (MDEQ) Permit Board in Jackson on Tuesday, July 9, 2019.
Residents packed the meeting room, eager to air their opinions about the proposed Enviva Lucedale wood pellet plant, which if built will be the largest in the world. To their disappointment, MDEQ Board President Chris McDonald announced that they would not allow comments from anyone who had spoken at the previous hearing in Lucedale or made written comments. He stated that this was to avoid repetition and that there had already been sufficient time for comments at the two hour long hearing which was held in Lucedale, despite the fact that small revisions had been made to the permit since that time.
It was therefore apparent that Tuesday’s meeting was only a formality and that the permit was going to be approved despite the fact that MDEQ had done nothing to address the fundamental problems with the permit. The permits to allow Enviva to transport and ship from the Pascagoula Port had been approved ahead of this meeting.
Air quality modeling shows that even with the revised permit, air pollution from the plant will be in violation of federal ambient air quality standards. Modeling also shows that the plant will cause the area to exceed the state’s health-based ambient standards for toxic air pollutants, which are dangerous even in relatively small amounts.
The decision, and the Board’s refusal to listen to concerns shows that the State of Mississippi is prioritizing protecting its significant investment of taxpayer dollars in the rail and port facilities to handle the pellets over protecting the health of its people.
The Enviva Lucedale wood pellet plant will have a disastrous effect on the people, wildlife, and climate of Mississippi and it is therefore time for the MDEQ Board to listen to the people of Mississippi not just rich, powerful industries. All the people have is their voice and they were denied even that at this hearing.