I am writing this letter to the editor to clarify some information that was not included in the Morning News’ recent article. “Florence County says Effingham wood pellet air permit is outside its jurisdiction.”
Our intention on meeting with the Florence County Council was never to have a rule on the air permit for Effingham Wood Pellet. And as a member of South Carolina DHEC Environment Justice Hub since 2014, we are aware of the process for permitting the construction of facilities of South Carolina.
Our intention of a meeting with Florence County Council is to give them information that we believe will help them to make better decisions when it comes to facilities, such as the Effingham Wood Pellet Plant.
The information that we wanted to share with them is not just the community perspective, the information also included a report from the National NAACP, the National Sierra Club, as well as an open letter to Congress from 200 scientists, articles from The New York Times and POLITICO and others pieces of relevant environmental information from scientists.
At our event, we even had The Conservation Voters of South Carolina offer to facilitate a discussion with the Florence County Council so that information relevant to their decision making and the areas of the environment can be shared with them. We also announced that we are in conversation with the Environment Protection Agency in Washington. During a recent discussion with them, we suggested that the Office of Public Engagement and Education include elected officials once these events are rolled out in the future.
Our interests in the Effingham Wood Pellet Plant are the impacts that we have seen in other areas on health, the environment and even the infrastructure of communities. Our request to simply share information with the Florence County Council has simply been ignored. We believe they should be open to receiving information from their constituents who could reelect them to office.
It is our hope that the Florence County Council will accept the information that we would like to share with them and open up a conduit for the future conversations that could avoid this unfortunate impasse.
This facility will produce upward of 43,800 metric tons of pellets per year. This means 1,051 acres of our forests will be cut down every year, and this process will produce an estimated 94,343 tons of CO2e emissions annually, the equivalent of an additional 18,171 cars on the road each year. The production of these pellets will release hazardous pollutants into the air, endangering the health of Florence County residents and contribute immensely to climate change that will impact vulnerable populations around the world.
REV. LEO WOODBERRY
E. J. Pastor
Executive director, New Alpha CDC