My take: The claims of biogas foes come up empty


In a letter supporting Bioenergy Devco’s plans for a biogas plant near Seaford Delmarva Chicken Association Executive Director Holly Porter got right to the point.

“For many who oppose this facility, their reasons have been clouded in their true intent – to eradicate the poultry industry in the region altogether, destroying a way of life that currently contributes more than $4.2 billion in economic benefit to our community alone,” Porter wrote. The letter came as DNREC wrapped up a comment period prior to deciding whether to issue permits.

The former Perdue site is bitterly opposed in a campaign organized by Washington, DC-based Food and Water Watch. The group is best known for opposing hydraulic fracturing “fracking” and factory farms. Fracking has its issues, but in this case the group makes a shaky case.

Opponents have thrown every possible argument against the wall, including the old standby of “too much truck traffic” and the alleged dangers from digesters that produce natural gas. Never mind that these plants operate around the world and produce renewable fuel that cuts electrical consumption, often at sewage treatment plants. Gas is otherwise “flared” into the atmosphere.

Food and Water  Watch’s utopian vision involves  turning back the clock for farms that help feed the nation and world. Granted, there are excesses in large scale operations, but this flawed vision would sharply increase food prices and make life even tougher for the less fortunate.

Their argument also  omits the environmental benefits of the site to the fragile Inland Bays and waterways if chicken-related waste ends up in the ground or is trucked elsewhere. And if Porter is correct and the true intent is to run the poultry industry out of Delmarva, their effort is doomed to failure.

This billion-dollar industry is staying put and is making substantial investments in dealing with long-running waste treatment issues. Also, those despised chicken growing operations preserve farmland from what many view as development in Sussex County and elsewhere on the Eastern Shore that is threatening its less hurried lifestyle.

We have seen been through this Beltway stuff  before. In opposing permits for the Delaware City refinery, opponents drove up from D.C. in their Toyota Prius hybrids and burned gasoline from a refinery rather than simply rely on local critics to state their case.

Never mind the thousand or so jobs that would have been lost. Perhaps they now have electric vehicles that get their fuel from generating plants powered by fracked natural gas. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.