Environmental, Public Health and Faith Groups Call on Governor Carney to Halt Factory Farm Biogas Scheme in Sussex County

“This developer’s interest in rushing this project without much review or oversight should tell us everything we need to know about it."

Published Feb 9, 2021


Food System

“This developer’s interest in rushing this project without much review or oversight should tell us everything we need to know about it."

“This developer’s interest in rushing this project without much review or oversight should tell us everything we need to know about it."

Dover, DE — This morning, 32 groups led by Food & Water Watch issued a letter to Governor Carney calling for his intervention in Bioenergy’s scheme to build dangerous new biogas operations in Sussex County. The letter calls on the Governor to oppose Bioenergy’s proposed poultry waste digestion facility in Seaford, Delaware, and comes in advance of the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission hearing scheduled for Thursday, February 11.

Environmental, public health and faith groups across Delaware and the region have joined forces to issue this letter. This attempt by Bioenergy to build out a new anaerobic digestion plant in Seaford is “a greenwashed nightmare,” says the letter.

Fueled by a 20-year agreement with Perdue Farms to provide chicken manure for the digester, the Bioenergy plant would incentivize chicken factory farm buildout across the region, further entrenching factory farms and the pollution that comes with them. Groups also urge the Governor to consider the significant greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution expected from the burning of factory farm biogas, including the negative health effects Seaford residents will see.

In conjunction with the letter to Governor Carney and ahead of the local hearing, groups responded,

“This biogas project is a corporate scheme to take further advantage of Seaford while selling itself to investors as a win-win-win. The developers seek to exploit an area with more than 20% of its population living below the poverty level and suffering from water pollution problems of past industrial abuse,” Shelly Cohen, member of the Sussex Health and Environmental Network said. “This project will only further jeopardize the health and economic status of the community, already ill-prepared to take on the additional public health and environmental problems sure to result from the facility. This project would be a knockout punch to the small city.”

Richard Borrasso of the Sussex Alliance for Responsible Growth (SARG) said, “SARG is of the opinion that the positives and negatives of this project have not been clearly presented to the public for their consideration through an open and transparent process.  SARG fully endorses having Bioenergy submit a new request for a Conditional Use, requiring public hearings to fully vet the proposal, ultimately requiring a public vote by County Council, the elected representatives of the people.”

Maria Payan, local resident and consultant for the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project said, “This factory farm biogas scheme is yet another attempt to entrench poultry farms in the region. Creating a market for the waste these polluting and toxic factory farms produce will allow Perdue and Bioenergy to continue to rake in profits while local community members will be forced to deal with the fallout. Governor Carney and Sussex County elected officials have a choice to make — will they cave to the polluting factory farm industry or will they invest in building a better future for those of us who live here?”

“This week, the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission has a duty to recommend denial of Bioenergy’s conditional use application for this project,”  said Tyler Lobdell, staff attorney at Food & Water Watch. “This developer’s interest in rushing this project through the approval process without much review or oversight, and with no additional protections for local residents, should tell us everything we need to know about it. This project is bad for Sussex County and it’s bad for Delaware. County decisionmakers and DNREC, under the direction of Governor Carney, should use their authority to deny permits for this facility. The future of Sussex County depends on it.” 

Contact: Phoebe Galt – [email protected]

Press Contact: Food & Water Watch [email protected]