Proposed wood pellet mill hearing held at Copiah County Safe Room
By Anna Coates Shown above are some of the 300+ enthusiastic supporters of the proposed wood pellet mill in the Industrial Park. They turned out for a public hearing on November 12 at the Safe Room that Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) required to gauge support for the project. Jobs, auxiliary suppliers, 16th section revenue for schools, use of a county building vacant for nearly 20 years (old Magnetek) are some of the benefits expected to derive from this endeavor – the main expectation is for an expanded market and better prices for pulpwood size timber produced when planted pine trees must be thinned during their growth. At present growers produce more pulpwood than there is a market for, resulting in very low prices. Decline in prices in the cattle market through the years led to many pastures being converted to stands of managed pine trees. Alternative Energy Development Copiah LLC (AED) is applying for a permit to construct air emissions equipment at its proposed wood pellet plant in the Industrial Park at Gallman. Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) engineers have determined that AED has complied with all applicable state and federal regulations. Following their review and response to public comments made at the November 12 hearing, MDEQ staff will present its final recommendations to the Mississippi Environmental Quality Permit Board. At its December 10 meeting this Board will act on the application: approves, denies, or requests more information. Members of the Environmental Quality Permit Board come from the State Department of Health; Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks; Office of Land and Water Resources; State Oil and Gas Board; Department of Marine Resources; Office of Geology within MDEQ and Department of Agriculture and Commerce.