My take: Chicken litter to biogas  decision a no-brainer

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After some controversy, Bioenergy Devco secured permits from DNREC for a chicken waste to biogas plant near Seaford from DNREC.

At first glance, the plant seemed like a no-brainer. Anaerobic digesters are used worldwide to produce gas that powers industries and waste treatment plants.

Bioenergy Devco will work with Dover-based Chesapeake Utilities to transport biogas via truck to its distribution system. The plant already produces a soil nutrient product.

Poultry litter, as the industry prefers to call it, remains a thorny issue on the Delmarva Peninsula. The traditional practice of plowing litter into the soil or using burial pits negatively affected waterways and fragile inland bays, although rapid and lightly controlled development has also played a role.

Food & Water Watch, a long-time foe of natural gas and the poultry industry mobilized local opposition with claims that digesters were dangerous, emitted too much methane, and would adversely affect poorer communities in the Seaford area. Also thrown in the mix were the usual claims of heavy truck traffic.

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Food & Water Watch has not accepted that biogas is part of the transition to a low-carbon future and reduces the need for less environmentally-friendly hydraulic fracturing “fracking”  that it vehemently opposes.

The group’s effort fell short of coming up with hard evidence.  Its position was not shared by other environmental groups that either remained on the sidelines or supported the project.

In a related development, a coalition of groups has filed a complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency claiming that residents of nearby low-income communities with non-English speaking populations were not adequately informed about the project. 

This came despite  DNREC’s well-publicized public hearing process. 

Still, the investment in the plant demonstrates that a key industry in Delaware is not going anywhere and is serious about becoming a better environmental neighbor. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.

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