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Huge Victory for Citizens Against Fibrowatt

February 28, 2010

No Fibrowatt in Page County

On Thursday, February 25, 2010, Gary Gibbs organized a great bus trip down to Richmond. Twenty Page County residents let our state representatives, Todd Gilbert and Mark Obenshain, know that we do NOT want Fibrowatt to build a 300-ft incinerator spewing pollution in our community. Fibrowatt will also demand huge tax payer subsidies for infrastructure, guaranteed energy buyback, and tax breaks. Fibrowatt’s plant in Benson, Minn already proves that they bring relatively few low paying jobs that are mainly given to existing corporate employees, NOT locals. Bad for our health, children, community and economy.

Anti-Fibrowatt Group in Richmond, VA

Anti-Fibrowatt Group in Richmond, VA

The citizens were a broad mix of Republicans, Democrats, Independents, born heres, come heres and been heres. They spoke courteously and forcefully. Gilbert and Obenshain listened for more than an hour. They agreed that jobs at any cost is a bad choice and that the proposed Fibrowatt deal was just Tom Cardman’s way to fix the mess he created with Project Clover. Fibrowatt’s plant would just be another way of throwing more good tax payer money into a bottomless pit while poisoning our families.

Anti-Fibrowatt Meeting in Richmond

The group meets with Senator Mark Obenshain and Delegate Todd Gilbert.

So did it work? Listen to these brief clips from our local radio talk show, Speak Out, the very next day-

Gary Frink (Delegate Todd Gilbert’s legislative assistant):

“His opinion has moved as a result of the visit of those twenty citizens who took the time to come down here….At the very least, Delegate Gilbert is neutral on this issue and has pulled his legislation..”

Mark Obenshain also now had a much different take on Fibrowatt:

“The project is clearly a very controversial project….I think my enthusiasm for economic development in the county probably got ahead of me..but clearly they need to be the right kind of jobs and with a company that has the right kind of culture that is consistent with the culture of the county.”

Tom Cardman and the EDA has had a seven month head start while they negotiated with Fibrowatt in closed, secret meetings. In just three weeks, the citizens of Page County have caught up. The citizens are the ones who will decide the future of the county. We will strongly support any member of the Board of Supervisors who stands up against Fibrowatt and for responsible growth.

Come this Tuesday, March 2nd, to the next Board of Supervisors meeting at Luray Middle School (details here) where Fibrowatt will present their plan for a 300-ft incinerator between Luray and Stanley on agricultural land. Remember that when you buy a used car, you don’t just listen to the used car salesman since he wants you to believe it’s a beauty. You do your own research on that car. Fibrowatt is the used car salesman, so do your own research. Read this document on the “Facts about Fibrowatt“, a document compiled by citizens of Surry County, NC who are in a similar position as we are in Page.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. Lisa permalink
    February 28, 2010 9:47 pm

    Over the past couple of weeks I have been doing a lot of research, and the more I learn about these types of operations, the more I am convinced these plants should not exist, not in Page County, not in the Shenandoah Valley, not in the State of Virginia, in fact I don’t think they should exist period. For me, it’s not an issue of “not in my backyard”.

    In this day and age where we have technology like solar and wind that do not produce any emissions, I think we should focus our resources on developing those types of renewable energy. I share the desire to bring new jobs to the area and sincerely believe that can be accomplished without ruining our health and environment. I hope the county leadership and citizens will take some time to review this research as well as doing some of their own before any decisions are made on what is best for the citizens who live here.

    I am not a scientist, nor am I a politician, lobbyist or activist. I am just an artist with common sense and serious concerns about this initiative. I hope folks will take this matter seriously.

    It is comforting to know there are some in leadership roles who actually listen to the concerns of the people they represent.

  2. March 1, 2010 12:31 am

    Lisa: Very good. Your comments hit the nail right on the head. Fibrowatt should be send back to the UK and asked to never come back to America. I hope that Todd Gilbert has done his research and His answer to fibrowatt is not in my state. But everyone in VA should watch out for they will be creeping around to find some area to put this nasty company. The do so much in the shadows that they are in the area before any one knows it. They have already do this type of work in VA and this meeting. This meeting that is coming on March 2th with the public invited but they cannot ask questions and get answers what type of America do we have. If I was a resident of VA I would ask questions and demand the answers(as I have here in NC). To the public of Page County be at the meeting take notes and listen and you will hear the Half-Truth from fibrowatt and answer back with the truth.

  3. Barry Carlton permalink
    March 1, 2010 2:09 am

    Work session? No public comment opportunity? The public does not have the right to ask questions?
    Sound logical? Wait a minute?
    You all say that the commissioners have been working(being wined and dined is more like it) by Fibrowatt in secret for 6 months(It is probally more like 10 years of secret contact,which has been the situation down here in N.C. Isn,t it time for the Page Co. citizens to do a little “work” of their own?

    I wish we had stood up for our rights here in Surry co. at an earlier stage and not allowed them to bluff us in to being quiet during meetings while Fibrowatt did all the talking.

  4. March 1, 2010 4:18 am

    This is like the type of email you recieve, or that commercial you watch. You are broke, have bills piling up on the table and then you are promised riches, promised to have your bills almost but eliminated. All you have to do is send in a check for $19.99 and you will recieve all the information you need. 8 weeks later the anticipation hits an all time high when the mail arrives because your answers are here. You open up the package and behold, there is a big black book and a few pamphletes. You are amazed. Your roubles are over. You open the book and the mood on your face changes. You flip thru the pages, you are getting angry. “I spent $20 FOR THIS!” you screamed. The book gives you the information you have already found 3 months ago on the internet. You rushed to the phone. You dial the number. The number is diconnected. You get on the internet. Sign into you banking account. The check went thru and so did many others……..

  5. Lisa Woods permalink
    March 1, 2010 12:27 pm

    Here are some questions I think our community should be asking:

    After reading a recent article in the local news from Benson MN stating the Fibrominn incinerator has been in violation of its air quality emission permit for over a year and after hearing from several residents, doctors and farmers from NC who find your company’s approach to locating incinerators in their community less than open and honest, why should the Page County community believe Fibrowatt will be a worthy, and more importantly a trusted member of our business community?

    Waste incineration is one of the most carbon intensive forms of electricity generation even more so than burning coal according to the US EPA. As of today, Page County struggles with air quality issues that come across state lines from the Ohio Valley along with emissions that float in from interstate 81. Given the amount of litter that will be trucked in with estimates of at least 100 loads per day, combined with an incinerator producing more output, how can we be guaranteed the air quality issues will not get any worse?

    It’s my understanding that the Benson MN community provided over $10 million worth of infrastructure improvements and Surry NC would have spend $5.4 million of tax payers money, how much would Fibrowatt require or be subsidized by Page County tax payers as an incentive to locate here?

    How much money will Fibrowatt contribute to the cost of maintaining our roadways on an annual basis?

    Studies have shown that property values go down in communities that have incinerators nearby, how can Fibrowatt offset this concern for local residents?

    Given that Page County has such a strong dependence on tourism which comes from having Shenandoah National Park and George Washington National Forest on each side, and the Historic Landmark of the famous Luray Caverns. Clearly these 3 entities are impacted by the above and underground aquifers that exist. How would Fibrowatt and its need for over 1 million gallons of water on a daily basis impact the existing ecosystems/aquifers that these organizations rely on for their tourism industry?

    Given that your company (Fibrowatt) has a good amount of experience with operating these types of incinerators, and your estimate to bring 100 new jobs should be honest and accurate, can you tell us what the job types will be and how many of each type of new job will be created? For example: the # of entry level jobs, mid management, truck driving jobs & if these will actually be new or existing?

    How many upper management jobs do you think will come from our local workforce?

    • Tom Lux permalink
      March 1, 2010 2:30 pm

      Lisa – Our best information says there will be about ten entry level jobs (like shoveling chicken manure.) The remainder of the bragged about 100 or more jobs will be truck drivers hauling the stuff – and blowing diesel smoke into your valley as they do so. But even these are actually not “new” jobs. What do you think happens to chicken litter now? Is it being stacked up and stored on site? Of course not! It’s being trucked away now. All that will change is the destination. They will bring the manure to your valley instead of to the farmers it goes to now. Tom

    • Wendy Rome permalink
      March 8, 2010 1:37 am

      I’d like to know how much energy Fibrowatt proposes to generate each year.

      Then I’d like to know the actual costs of establishing their facility here.

      Included in those costs, at minimum, should be:

      State funding

      County funding

      Opportunity costs, i.e. opportunities we don’t pursue because we’ve pursued this one.

      Environmental costs (quantification of the all the various negative environmental impacts including all aspects of the operation including the pollution from the higher truck activity)

      Losses to other industry/economic ventures due to the presence of Fibrowatt (this would include, for example, reduction in cabin rentals due to the presence of the facility, reduction in visitors to the Caverns, etc.)

      Reductions in home and business values in the county due to the presence of the facility

      Higher costs of road repairs attributable to the heavy truck activity

      Higher costs of county and state regulatory activities, supervising this facility

      Litigation costs that inevitably will accompany the facility, given its track record in MN

      Other costs

      When all these costs are aggregated, what is the actual cost.

      I have many questions, but given what happened with Fibrowatt in MN, my opening question is this:

      Were the Fibrowatt managers simply incompetent (i.e., did they not understand the regulatory constraints and/or were they simply unable to fashion solutions to meet them?) or did they flagrantly disregard the applicable regulatory structure? Neither instills confidence.

      Another question here — Are we the largest poultry producer in this area? Or is Shenandoah or Rockingham a greater poultry producer? If the latter, why has Fibrowatt targeted Page rather than one of those counties?

      All in all, I think there’s much to know yet. But I can’t help but believe putting a plume belcher in this county does us all a grave disservice. The negative externalities likely would be substantial. Will those all be counted? Or will some people simply look at the ‘up-front’ numbers and disregard all the other costs?

      • Lisa Woods permalink
        March 10, 2010 8:34 am

        Wendy, you make some very good points and you’re asking the right questions. My opinion is the EDA and Economic Development Office only looked at the up front numbers they were provided by Fibrowatt. Had they taken just a little initiative on their own to review the negative impacts of locating this type of biomass incinerator they would have quickly reached a different conclusion.

        Overlooking the negative impacts to our environment, the negative impacts to our economy, the negative impacts for our farmers, and worst of all the negative impact to our overall health, it’s very irresponsible. The US EPA states the level of “particulate matter” belched out of this smokestack is DEADLY. And this is only one of the deadly chemicals that float in the air in Benson MN right now, every mintue, every day.

        Our new BOS thankfully is much more reponsible. My genuine hope is they will offset the careless activities of the EDA and others and will vote against this reckless plan with swift and decisive action.

  6. Cornelia Graves Spain permalink
    March 2, 2010 11:51 am

    Tourism fuels the Cabin Capital of Virginia.

  7. Alice Richmond permalink
    March 3, 2010 5:18 am

    It is wonderful to see the citizens of Page County paying attention to their own governance. An incinerator can find itself a place, maybe Baltimore, Detroit, or Mexico City. But not Page County. Yay, Page County Citizens!

  8. March 4, 2010 5:26 pm

    AS A VETERAN, I KNOW THE DANGERS OF DIOXIN. DIOXIN WAS THE CONTAMINATION OF A DEFOLIANT KNOWN AS AGENT ORANGE. WE HAVE PEOPLE DYING EVERY DAY THAT WERE EXPOSED TO AGENT ORANGE.

    WHAT IS THE CONTACT INFO FOR THE GROUP IN PAGE COUNTY OPPOSING THE PLANT?

    THANKS.

    • Wendy Rome permalink
      March 8, 2010 1:42 am

      Well, I guess we’d have to add to my list of costs above the costs of treatment for illness due to the pollution, lost value of life, lost income associated with illness and death, and all those other costs associated with treating those who fall ill due to the pollutants … plus potential clean-up costs once the governmental entities admit these pollutants are present and must be removed.

      Wouldn’t it be interesting if the numbers they’re bandying about are miniscule in comparison to the total costs…such that, for the same total cost, we could give every house in the county a solar power system.

  9. Lisa Woods permalink
    March 4, 2010 7:54 pm

    Arch, if you haven’t heard from anyone yet or if there are others out there who want to get in touch, feel free to contact me at lisa@punkspeak.com I can facilitate and make connections. Bless you.

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  1. Fibrowatt: “Quietly they came into Page County…Quietly we would like you to leave.” « Page County Citizens

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