The Town of Moreau Planning Board voted in December 2021 to retain an independent consultant to assist with navigating and reviewing the Full Environmental Assessment Form submitted by Saratoga Biochar, the Town never retained the consultant. The planning board met with DEC in January where the DEC specifically said that the review of the Saratoga Biochar State Facility Air Permit is not a substitute for the review process under SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act).
Customarily, an environmental impact statement (EIS) is required for large industrial projects. An EIS is a study of the environmental impacts of a proposed project. It also assesses the alternatives to the proposed project and the potential impacts of these alternative actions. When an EIS is done, there are several opportunities for the public to comment and to participate in public hearings, as well as the experts on various sides to weigh in during this process.
Residents have expressed opposition to Saratoga Biochar due to the potential environmental impacts to the community and surrounding area (noise, odor, truck traffic, air and water pollution, heavy metals, storage, and fire safety). The planning board has a responsibility to protect the health and character of its community.
It is common for the planning board to require independent traffic studies before allowing a business to establish a new facility in a community. For example, the Moreau planning board required a local Veterinary clinic on the same meeting agenda as Saratoga Biochar to pay for an engineering firm to evaluate the traffic study that the vet clinic already had done, at the planning board’s request. However, Saratoga Biochar was NOT required to get a new traffic study done. Rather it was allowed to use a 25-year-old Town of Moreau traffic study instead. The proposed truck route for Saratoga Biochar passes many new neighborhoods that were not part of the old traffic study. Also, the trucks would travel within one mile of a busy elementary school. The Town of Moreau Planning Board has given Saratoga Biochar a Negative Declaration under SEQRA, even though it would be the first sewage sludge biochar factory in New York State. (There are others in the U.S.) “The planning board does NOT have sufficient expertise to assess the potential impacts of this project.