Sound Rivers weighs in on DEQ biogas permit hearing

On Tuesday night, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality held a virtual public meeting to hear from the public on the anaerobic digester general permits, since the agency has been charged with developing three general permits by July 2022, as mandated by the legislature with the 2021 Farm Act. The three permits will cover wet poultry facilities, swine facilities and dairy facilities.

“The meeting was incredibly disappointing from the perspective of DEQ providing opportunities for the community members to participate and make their voices heard. DEQ’s online platform was not functioning, so the meeting turned into a teleconference and started more than a half hour late,” Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper Jill Howell said.

Jill said about 30 speakers made comments and speakers were pretty evenly split between industry/farm bureau/farmers/pork council supporters and community/environmental advocates.

“We don’t think that a one-size-fits all general permit makes sense for the permitting of anaerobic digesters given the vastly different technologies that are proposed to be implemented and different conditions on individual farms, but since it was mandated by the legislature, we are urging DEQ to make this permit as protective as possible,” Jill said. “Amongst other things, I noted in my three minutes during the meeting a need for a robust monitoring program of surface and groundwater, as well as digester influent and effluent.”

Friday, Dec. 17, is when the public comment period will close. You can weigh in by telling DEQ to create permits that protect North Carolinians and their environment here.