Environmental Groups Sound the Alarm on Delmarva Factory Farm Biogas Threat

As the region’s first facility moves ahead in Delaware, experts highlighted the climate and public health threats inherent in biogas buildout

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Food System

For Immediate Release

Dover, DE — This afternoon, advocates, experts and impacted residents representing Food & Water Watch, Concerned Citizens Against Industrial CAFOs, the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project and the Sussex Health & Environmental Network held a virtual press conference to sound the alarm on Delmarva’s factory farm biogas threat. Today’s press conference marked the anniversary of the first factory farm biogas project in the region’s contract with Chesapeake Utilities to provide the “renewable natural gas” to the regional energy grid — a project advocates see as a harbinger of what is to come.

Factory farm biogas, termed “renewable natural gas” by the natural gas and industrial agriculture industries, is a false climate solution seeing increasing investment from industries posturing toward “greener” revenue sources. Approved by the Sussex County Council last month, Bioenergy DevCo’s facility in Delaware is set to be the first poultry factory farm biogas project in the region, should the state environmental agency issue the slew of pollution permits the facility would require. Recent investments and the market potential indicate that this project is only the start of a regional buildout threat on the densely concentrated poultry-producing peninsula.

Advocates highlighted the criticality of proactive state policy in preventing biogas, fossil fuel and factory farm entrenchment in the region, citing public health, environmental justice and climate concerns with the dirty practice. Greg Layton, Delaware Organizer with Food & Water Watch said:

“By creating a market for waste and monetizing its production, factory farm biogas incentivizes the buildout of more factory farms and processing plants, deepening our economic reliance on the destructive and deadly form of agriculture that is daily spurring on the climate crisis. The project moving forward in Delaware is a canary in the coal mine for what is to come should biogas buildout continue unchecked in Delmarva — Governor Carney must pursue proactive state policy to check the buildout of this dirty industry before it’s too late.”

“Where does it stop? When will the voices of a community be heard? Residents are saying no to diseases, hydrogen sulfide and the potential for explosions in their community,” said Monica Brooks, an organizer and local leader with Concerned Citizens Against Industrial CAFOs. “This is not about green energy — it is about justifying the overproduction of poultry on the peninsula. This is about forcing residents to endure and pay for the consequences of a choice that they never made. The voices of frontline, disenfranchised communities of color matter.”

“Factory farm biogas is just another assault on the public health of Black and brown communities and the right to breathe clean air and drink pure water,” said Maria Payan, Senior Regional Representative for Socially Responsible Agriculture Project and co-founder of Sussex Health and Environmental Network. “To bring other states’ factory farm processing waste into Sussex County’s poor minority communities is reprehensible. This isn’t ‘clean energy’ — it’s an ugly scheme to benefit industrial poultry polluters despite opposition from hundreds of local residents.”

A press packet to accompany the event, including relevant research is available at the following link. For a recording of the event, please reach out to Phoebe Galt.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]