Meetings Watch: Environment Department to discuss proposed plant permit

• What: The New Mexico Environment Department will hold a public hearing on the air quality permit for the proposed Clovis Ethanol plant.

• When: Today. Testimony will begin at 10 a.m. The Hearing Officer will accept non-technical public comments at 11:30 a.m., 3 p.m., 6 p.m. and periodically throughout the hearing until all comments are heard.

• Where: Clovis Civic Center, 801 Schepps Blvd., Clovis.

• Background: ConAgra Trade Group, which would own and operate the facility, wants to build a 110-million-gallon-per-year ethanol plant at 1327 U.S. 60-84 in Clovis in Curry County. The proposed plant will be located near the Peavey Company West grain handling facility.
The hearing was scheduled as a result of public outcry over the facility.

• Plant meets opposition: A group of citizens has lobbied against locating the plant near U.S. 60-84. They believe emissions from the plant, such as carbon monoxide, will be dangerous to public health, especially to those close to plant in neighborhoods, the hospital and schools.
ConAgra officials have said the plant will not exceed federal emission standards set to protect public health.
Based upon testimony heard at the hearing and evidence collected from ConAgra and others, NMED will decide whether to issue ConAgra an air quality permit to operate.
The air quality permit is needed before ConAgra can seek a building permit.

• What’s next: The Hearing Officer typically issues her report, which offers a recommendation on whether the permit should be granted, two and a half months after the hearing. After that, parties interested in commenting on the report have two weeks to do so. NMED Secretary Ron Curry will decide whether the permit should be granted 30 days later. The secretary could shorten that four-month process.
NMED will also accept non-technical written public comments regarding the
proposed facility today.

— Compiled by CNJ Staff Writer Marlena Hartz