Our tale begins with a story we’ve all heard: corporations with unlimited resources steamrolling the residents of a small, rural town. The villain? A wolf in sheep’s clothing. They call themselves the Renewable Biomass Group (Biomass), and they thought it would be easy to bring their noisy, dirty wood pellet biomass plant to the frontline community of Adel in Cook County, Georgia. Their plan is to cut down forests in the surrounding area, turn the trees into wood pellets, and then ship them overseas to be burned for electricity. What Biomass didn’t know was that the residents of Adel were fed up. They were already suffering from years of polluters not held to account.
A core group of citizens organized, educated themselves about wood pellet biomass, and began working with Dogwood Alliance.
Through Dogwood, they connected with other activists living in and around Cook County. They formed the Concerned Citizens of Cook County (4C) and didn’t waste any time. Members attended and spoke at City Council meetings, hoping to stop a rezoning of the proposed plant site from agricultural to heavy industrial. They reached out to every member of their City Council, asking them to recognize the additional pollution this would bring to their already burdened community.
Despite overwhelming opposition at the meeting, the rezoning was approved in a 3-2 vote.
That’s when 4C and Dogwood Alliance decided to take it to the next level. Together, we have taken multiple steps to oppose the biomass wood pellet plant including:
- Requesting a public comment period in response to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) draft permit. The EPD denied our request and issued the final permit.
- Filing a formal petition with the EPA, the Environmental Integrity Project, and others, calling on them to direct the EPD to abide by the US Clean Air Act rules.
- Meeting with the EPA Region 4 Air Quality Division Director and staff to discuss our petition opposing the biomass plant’s air quality permit.
- Discussing the issue with the environmental liaisons from the offices of Representatives Sanford Bishop and Austin Scott.
Why? Because the GA EPD is not playing by the rules. The EPA mandates a public comment period for this type of project before a permit is issued, and the citizens of Adel have made it clear: they will be fighting for their rights.
After our meeting with them, the EPA District 4 Air Quality Division is reviewing our petition, but they may need more urging to get us a decision before the wood pellet plant begins construction. That’s where you come in…
Now, a struggle that began in rural South Georgia is well on its way to becoming a national story. Dr. Treva Gear, founder of 4C, and Vicki Weeks, Dogwood Alliance’s Georgia State Coordinator, recently met with Georgia’s two newly elected Senators and asked them to support our EPA petition.
Please take a stand for Southern forests by letting the EPA know that you support this petition.
Stay tuned to find out how we’re pushing back against the unchecked expansion of the wood pellet industry!