Facts Needed on Penrose, NC Biomass Proposal

- by Rick and Jeannie Falknor

Transylvania County residents deserve all the facts about the proposed biofuel plant at the airport site in Penrose [North Carolina], especially the negative impacts such a business can have on our county.

First, biomass power generation is a dirty industry. According to a Wall Street Journal-cited study conducted in early 2012, of the 107 operating biomass plants in the United States, 85 have been cited by federal or state regulators for the violation of clean air or water standards laws over the past 5 years. And the dirty reality goes further. These biomass generators have been shown to release high levels of fine particulate air pollution that can cause breathing problems, and volatile organic compounds linked to cancer.

Secondly, the sourcing of biomass material to feed these burners will become problematic. At biomass generators in other towns, operators have resorted to burning old tires and chicken waste to keep their burners going. Does this mean that our county commissioners have agreed to let garbage from surrounding communities be trucked into our county for disposal?

How many people will want to return to our community to spend their dollars or relocate their families and businesses if they're greeted by an industrial waste burning facility as they cross into Transylvania County? How many truly clean industries that rely on clean water and clean air will want to make Transylvania County their home if we agree to accept a dirty industry?

Proposed biomass projects in Florida and Indiana have already been rejected by local citizens. And the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians has warned regulators that polluted air from biomass plants could “increase the risk of premature death, asthma, chronic bronchitis and heart disease.” 

This is not the legacy we want to leave for our community's children.

Transylvania County government and economic development leaders owe our community rigorous public discussions and information about this proposed business. When will that happen? Hopefully, before it is too late.