On September 6, 2022, Gary Advocates for Responsible Development (GARD) submitted a Petition for Administrative Review of the Issuance of a Federally Enforceable State Operating Permit (FESOP) – New Source Construction (Minor PSD/EO) Permit No. 089-44043-00660 by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), to Fulcrum Centerpoint, LLC, for a trash to fuel biorefinery to be located on Gary’s Lake Michigan shoreline.
The Petitioners, Gary Advocates for Responsible Development (GARD), are an ad hoc group of Gary residents and regional supporters concerned about Gary’s current and future environmental and economic sustainability.
The Petitioners argue that the granting of this permit will exacerbate the already existing burden of past and current air pollution and waste issues in the Environmental Justice community of Gary.
The IDEM failed to address the environmental justice impacts of locating this facility in Gary and did not act on the EPA’s recommendation that the IDEM conduct an environmental justice and cumulative impact analysis of the source’s impact on the affected communities, despite the EPA’s offer to provide assistance and support.
Petitioners question whether IDEM’s decision violates its obligations under its own Non-discrimination Policy and Environmental Stakeholder Inclusion Program.
This failure stands in direct contradiction to current efforts by the federal government to renew attention and actions addressing environmental justice in minority and low-income populations.
Petitioners further question whether IDEM’s decision is contrary to federal civil rights laws.
The petition also addresses issues associated with Fulcrum’s non-existent Feedstock Processing Facilities (FPFs) proposed to be constructed in Indiana and Illinois and questions whether permitting decisions can or should be made without a verifiable and consistent source of municipal garbage and locally processed feedstock.
Onsite waste handling oversight and feedstock characterization are also impacted by the withdrawal of the Fulcrum Centerpoint Solid Waste Processing Facility
permit application, since the feedstock no longer qualifies as solid waste under the revision made by Indiana House Enrolled Act 1226 (effective July 1, 2022).
The Petitioners argue that the IDEM was lax in responding to the public concerns about the operational status and unproven track record of the Fulcrum Sierra facility located in the Nevada desert and that the IDEM failure to conduct independent research into the viability and effectiveness of Fulcrum’s gasification process will negatively impact the future sustainability and economic vitality of the city of Gary.
The Indiana Office of Environmental Adjudication will now schedule hearings on the petition after which the Environmental Law Judge will issue findings of fact, conclusions of law, and the final order.