County Commission Unlawfully Allows Dirty Factory Farm Gas Facility to Proceed in Delaware

Advocates request the Commission reconsider its unlawful approval of the project, which would endanger public health, safety and the environment

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Food System

For Immediate Release

Today, Food & Water Watch and Sussex Health and Environmental Network issued a letter to the Sussex County Council and Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission, notifying them as to the unlawful actions of the Commission last week in allowing a clearly lapsed conditional use permit to remain in effect for CleanBay Renewables’ factory farm biogas facility in Georgetown. Citing photo and video evidence that demonstrate the company’s failure to construct at the site before the August 1, 2021 deadline established in Sussex County Code, the groups are requesting the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission reconsider their unlawful approval of the company’s lapsed permit.

Factory farm biogas facilities are a growing trend in agribusiness companies’ taking advantage of clean energy mandates, while not actually reducing emissions or agricultural pollution. Until the CleanBay permit legally lapsed in August, the project was one of two poultry factory farm biogas digesters in motion in Delaware, along with the nearby Bioenergy DevCo project, moving forward near Seaford. Given the significant risks to public health, safety and the environment posed by these industrial facilities, it is imperative that Sussex County officials scrutinize these proposals seriously, not give corporate developers the “benefit of the doubt.”

Given the unlawful decision, Food & Water Watch and Sussex Health and Environmental Network request that the the Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission reconsider its determination, and inform CleanBay that their conditional use permit “is null and void as of August 1, 2021, and that therefore no construction or use of the site under that non-existent conditional use approval is permitted.”

Food & Water Watch Staff Attorney Emily Miller issued the following statement:

“Factory farm gas entrenches the dirtiest factory farming practices and keeps fossil fuel infrastructure on the grid. By creating a monetary incentive for factory farm waste production, projects like CleanBay’s that seek to produce gas for the regional energy grid, are a nightmare in the making. Sussex County has issued an unlawful determination that CleanBay’s clearly lapsed zoning approval was still in effect, paving the way for the polluting facility to endanger local residents’ health, safety and the environment, while handing the corporation a blank check. The Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission must notify CleanBay Renewables of their lapsed permit, putting an end to this destructive project.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]