Environmentalists fear new project could bring more pollution to Stockton



STOCKTON – Environmental activists in south Stockton are concerned that a new renewable energy project could bring more pollution to the Port of Stockton and surrounding areas.

What if we turned wood scraps into a new form of energy?

Patrick Blacklock is the CEO of the California Rural County Representatives Conference (RCRC), and that’s exactly what he and the RCRC are considering.

“Large trees can go to a sawmill and be turned into wood, but small biomass is put in a place where it is cut and piled up and burned. One, it’s not good for the environment, two, it’s not good for the environment. “It’s not sustainable from an economic standpoint either,” Blacklock said.

According to the company’s website, they aim to work with Drax, a UK-based company that turns wood and scrap into small pellets as an alternative to burning coal.

If the project goes ahead, the materials would be trucked to a rail yard, loaded and transported to Stockton.

It’s this type of transportation that some environmental groups have a problem with.

“When you think about bringing industry into a community, it’s an overburdened community that is actively trying to overcome these conditions,” said Gloria Alonso Cruz.

She is the environmental justice coordinator for Little Manila Rising in south Stockton. Stockton has the 41st worst air pollution in the nation, according to a January report, and Cruz feels these projects could make it even worse.

“It’s emotionally draining. We suffer from this all year round,” she said.

The project is in such an early stage that Stockton Port Director Kirk DeJesus said he would wait for an environmental impact report to be completed before agreeing to anything.

This allows us to communicate to the public and potential partners how the project will impact local communities and wildlife. At this time, only notifications are being made to ports.

The Golden State Department of Natural Resources (GSNR), which is leading efforts on the project, said it is currently working on a draft environmental impact report (EIR).

There are obviously many steps you need to go through to start this project.

One thing we both agree on is how much we need input and feedback from the community.

GSNR partnered with local organizations to ultimately hold a public meeting to gather input before the final EIR was created.

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