The Concerned Citizens of Cook County (4C) and Spectrum Energy Georgia LLC (Spectrum) announced today they have reached an agreement resolving a dispute over Spectrum's plan to construct and operate a facility in Adel, Georgia, that will produce wood pellets for the energy production industry. Spectrum aims to refurbish a particle board facility shuttered since 2014 into a state-of-the-art wood pellet manufacturing facility.
4C opposed Spectrum's air quality permit issued in July 2022 by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division due to its concerns about the protectiveness of the permit and the legacy of industrial development patterns in Adel and their effects on minority communities. 4C also formally challenged the permit in a petition filed with the Georgia Office of Administrative Hearings. With this agreement, Spectrum will move forward with the project.
Under the agreement, Spectrum has committed to many concrete steps to increase transparency to the community and increase pollution control requirements above and beyond what Georgia EPD required. These steps include providing extra performance assurances for the facility's air pollution control equipment and establishing accountability directly to 4C. Spectrum has also agreed to a range of "good neighbor" provisions unrelated to air emissions to reduce the potential impact of its operations on the community. These provisions are in many respects above and beyond what Georgia law requires.
Michael Ainsworth, Spectrum's President, said, "We listened to 4C's concerns, and we realized that addressing those concerns is fully consistent with our desire to construct and operate a facility that will be the gold standard in the pellet industry. Going above and beyond what the law requires is aligned with Spectrum's core values."
Dr. Treva Gear, 4C's Chairperson, said, "4C appreciates that Spectrum has listened to our concerns related to the health and well-being of our community, but the proof will be in Spectrum's actions. We are committed to closely monitoring Spectrum's adherence to its promises and to holding Spectrum fully accountable to the agreement it has made." She added: "Nothing about this agreement lessens our concerns about the legacy pollution and patterns of industrial development that have harmed Black and Hispanic communities in Adel, and we will continue fighting for change."
Ainsworth said, "We truly respect 4C and its leadership. The values they represent and their dedication to them is commendable. We look forward to a lasting and positive relationship, and we also recognize that earning trust takes time and follow-through on our part. Adel has tremendous potential, and we look forward to becoming part of the community." Ainsworth noted that the project will create hundreds of high-paying jobs, many of which will be filled by Adel residents. Spectrum anticipates beginning construction on the project in the first quarter of 2023.
About Concerned Citizens of Cook County
4C is a non-profit organization that seeks to be a positive force for change in Cook County, Georgia, by promoting equity and advocating for social and environmental Justice. More information about 4C is available at www.joincookcitizens.org.
About Spectrum Energy
Spectrum Energy is a family business committed to partnering with the community. Spectrum Energy was founded by the Ainsworth family with a 70-year history of excellence. Our commitment is to provide excellent working conditions, competitive wages, benefits and advancement opportunities, and look forward to supporting families, children, schools, churches and food security initiatives in Adel and Cook County. Learn more about Spectrum by visiting www.spectrumenergyusa.com.
4C is represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center (www.southernenvironment.org). Spectrum is represented by the law firm Kazmarek Mowrey Cloud Laseter LLP (www.kmcllaw.com).
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Original Source: Agreement Signed Between Spectrum Energy and Concerned Citizens of Cook County