Pinnacle Renewable Energy, one of the largest wood pellet manufacturers in the world, withdrew their application for a new Mississippi wood pellet plant today. The plant would have produced 440,000 tons of pellets per year to be exported abroad and burned in power plants. It would have been located in Newton, MS, about an hour east of Jackson.
A few weeks earlier, on April 24, the Environmental Integrity Project, on behalf of more than half a dozen environmental groups, submitted comments to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality on the proposed plant’s air pollution control permit. The comments argued that the draft permit was deficient, and that the facility would either need to install additional and expensive pollution controls or reduce production significantly to comply with the Clean Air Act.
“Pinnacle was trying to portray the proposed plant as a minor source of air pollution,” said Patrick Anderson, the attorney working with the Environmental Integrity Project to draft the comments. “By withdrawing the proposal, they seem to acknowledge the emissions would have been much higher than in the permit, which is what we were arguing.”
The facility would have emitted around 60,000 pounds of Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs), including 8,000 pounds of acrolein, which is an especially acute HAP. For context, that would place the plant in the top five largest sources of acrolein in Mississippi. The facility would have also emitted hundreds of tons of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which cause ground level ozone and smog (harmful to children, the elderly, and people with lung conditions such as asthma), and dozens of tons of fine particulate matter.
The facility also would have been responsible for 950,000 tons of CO2-equivalent emissions (both from the pellets burned overseas and the facility’s operations itself), and harvested more than a million tons of wood per year from a region designated as a World Biodiversity Hotspot.
Pinnacle operates eight pellet plants in western Canada and one plant in Alabama, with a second in Alabama currently permitted.
The Environmental Integrity Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Washington, D.C., and Austin, Texas, that protects public health and the environment by investigating polluters, holding them accountable under the law, and strengthening public policy.