New rules for anaerobic digesters would force Michigan facility to close
ST. JOSEPH, Mich., Dec. 27, 2023 — State Rep. Joey Andrews (D-St. Joseph), along with a bipartisan group of signatories, sent a letter to Phil Roos — director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy — urging him to reconsider a permitting change that would lead to the closure of Michigan’s only anaerobic digester, a facility that keeps organic waste out of landfills and generates clean energy.
“The Legislature recently passed bills to set Michigan on a path to national leadership in clean energy production. The proposed changes to EGLE’s permitting for anaerobic digesters would be a roadblock on that path,” Andrews said. “States across the country have found ways to appropriately regulate the more than 2,000 digesters in the U.S., and Michigan shouldn’t be any different.”
Anaerobic digesters take in organic waste and use bacteria to convert it into biogas for energy production and solid digestate, which farmers can use for fertilizer. The Fremont Regional Digester accepts more than 150,000 tons of pre-consumer food waste each year and generates enough energy to power about 3,500 homes annually. Closure of the facility would result in the loss of 17 good-paying jobs, the addition of 100,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and the loss of a $25 million investment that the parent company was planning to make.
“As the representative of one of Michigan’s most ecologically sensitive regions, I am keenly aware of, and fully support the need for, proper environmental regulations. But there can and should be a balance between protecting Michigan’s resources and allowing green energy facilities like Fremont to continue operating,” Andrews said. “My colleagues and I are urging Director Roos and EGLE to find that balance so we can keep waste out of landfills, keep the lights on in our homes and keep moving forward to the clean energy future we all want for our state.”