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Artist rendering of proposed Fulcrum Centerpoint plant for Buffington Harbor

Fulcrum Centerpoint gets okay to build

Contributed By: The 411 News

State dismisses GARD's environmental challenges and upholds IDEM decision

Fulcrum Centerpoint, the waste-to-fuel facility planned for Buffington Harbor in Gary got the go ahead to begin construction. It had been delayed by objections from the local environmental group GARD (Gary Advocates for Responsible Development).

Yesterday, GARD received notice from Indiana’s Office of Environmental Adjudication that it had dismissed GARD’s challenge and was upholding IDEM’s decision to grant Fulcrum an air permit.

Air permits are required by the Federal Clean Air Act with regulatory authority in Indiana delegated to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). An air permit is needed to construct and operate a facility that will have air emissions.

Fulcrum applied for the air permit in March 2022. The permit was issued in August 2022 by IDEM, but GARD immediately asked the OEA for an administrative review, citing deficiencies in IDEM’s approval.

“A trash-to-fuel plant is not in the best interests of the people of Gary. It was permitted improperly, and we will continue to fight to make sure it does not pollute our community,” said Dorreen Carey, GARD president.

“The OEA’s decision is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, contrary to law, unsupported by evidence and should be set aside. It ignored GARD’s legal arguments and failed to identify any substantial evidence supporting IDEM’s decision,” said Mike Zoeller, attorney with the Conservation Law Center and representing GARD.

A major deficiency, GARD said, was “IDEM granted Fulcrum’s air permit despite not having complete information about the types of wastes or ‘feedstock’ the facility would be burning.”

OEA said in its reply, “Petitioners contend IDEM should have required additional information about the feedstock but do not specify what information IDEM should have obtained or cite to any statute or regulation that would require IDEM to do so.”

“Regardless of the variability in the feedstock,” OEA said, “Fulcrum must still comply with the terms of the Permit. In other words, the potential variability in the feedstock does not provide sufficient grounds for invalidating the Permit.”

Fulcrum BioEnergy, Centerpoint’s owner, says it will be the world’s largest facility converting household trash into jet fuel.

GARD said it has filed a petition for judicial review of the OEA decision with the Lake County Superior Court.

Story Posted:05/21/2024

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