332 Shady Grove Church Road ~ Winston-Salem, NC 27107 ~ Phone (336) 769-0955 ~ Fax (336) 769-9198 ~ Email:


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

David Mickey
336-624-2412 (cell)

Janet Marsh

Environmental Group Challenges State To Protect Communities From Dirty Renewable Energy Plants

Tuesday April 1- The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL), a long-time critic of exemptions and loopholes in North Carolina’s air quality program, yesterday called on the state to exercise leadership in the development of clean renewable energy. Legislation enacted by the General Assembly in 2007 mandated the use of swine waste and poultry litter to generate electricity and other biomass fuels are allowed under the program.

The recommended actions to the Environmental Management Commission (EMC) include steps to reduce toxic air pollution, prevent the deterioration of North Carolina’s air quality caused by additional ozone and soot emissions, and set strict “low emissions” standards for renewable energy facilities. Plants that burn poultry litter, such as those proposed by Fibrowatt, are of particular concern to the group.

“We were alarmed by this legislation last year and recognized the dangers these provisions presented,” said David Mickey, a staff member with BREDL. “Now North Carolina has the dirtiest renewable energy law in the country and we must depend on the regulators to minimize the harm,” he continued. “That would not be necessary if the General Assembly had acted responsibly.”

Problems with the legislation are reflected in the group’s recommendations yesterday:

• Minimize emissions by requiring all new renewable energy facilities to meet a low emissions standard for all renewable energy resources (no exemptions);
• Apply North Carolina’s toxic air pollution rules to all existing and proposed energy facilities;
• Expedite rulemaking for the adoption of acceptable ambient levels (AALs) for toxic air pollutants after recommendations from the Science Advisory Board;
• Produce guidance documents and require testing of renewable energy resources prior to their use as fuels;
• Adopt strict definitions of qualifying biomass fuels that specifically exclude municipal solid waste and contaminated wood waste;
• Encourage alternative uses of organic energy resources that minimize emissions and encourage their highest and best use;
• Require multiple pathway modeling of human exposure to toxics that includes all possible pathways and potential risks to human health;
• Account for the full range of greenhouse gas emissions associated with renewable energy.

“North Carolina is headed down the road to becoming the dirty energy state,” Mickey said. “We want this state to be known for leading the way toward safe, clean renewable energy, not more waste, pollution and dirty air. We look forward to working with the Commission to establish a clean renewable energy industry in North Carolina,” he concluded.

The Environmental Management Commission has established an Alternative Energy Committee to evaluate the need for renewable energy regulations and the ability of the state to provide proper oversight of these new facilities. As a first step in that process, the committee solicited scoping comments from the public. The comments submitted on Tuesday were the League’s response.

Comments to the EMC and supporting documents are available on the organization’s website at


More info:
March 31, 2008: David Mickey's comments on the NC Environmental Management Commission’s development of environmental standards for renewable energy facilities in North Carolina. 

Poultry power is dirtier than coal. Poultry Litter versus Coal-fired Power Plants: An Air Pollution Comparison - The graph illustrates the negative air pollution impacts of power plants powered by poultry litter compared with boilers fired by coal.