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Neighbors Argued Hard Against Poultry-Waste-To-Power Plant. DEQ Renewed Its Permit.

Last winter, as the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) considered a new permit for a Robeson County plant that generates electricity by burning poultry waste and wood, it turned to the public for comment. The earful it received was mighty and unanimous. The facility, owned by an Alabama-based company called North Carolina Renewable Power-Lumberton, LLC, had racked up numerous air-quality violations before it voluntarily shut down its boilers in 2020. It had exceeded limits for carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and fine particulate matter, common pollutants that imperil human health. Its monitoring system had logged excessive downtime. It had signed two consent orders with the state and paid more than $76,000 in penalties.

Now the company wanted to reopen, and was seeking a new permit allowing more emissions. At DEQ’s Feb. 21 online hearing, 33 people pleaded with the agency’s Division of Air Quality to deny the application. None defended the company.