Titan America’s proposed cement plant in Castle Hayne, North Carolina has regained some momentum after a state Superior Court judge lifted an injunction freezing the company’s air permit application.
The move also appears to remove the need for a lengthy state-mandated environmental review of the controversial project.
But environmental and other groups opposed to Titan’s plans said North Carolina regulators can still insist on a comprehensive look at the project’s potential impacts to the environment and the health of nearby residents.
“The state can assert its discretionary authority that requires a thorough review,” said Michelle Nowlin, a Duke environmental attorney representing PenderWatch & Conservancy. “Although not mandated by the law, we think this is the right thing to do for the environment and the health of the people in that area.”
A freeze on the state’s review of the project’s air permit had been issued this summer as environmentalists challenged whether the project’s use of public money in the form of US$4.5m worth of local and state incentives should trigger the more stringent review process required under the N.C. Environmental Policy Act, otherwise known as SEPA.
Titan officials had argued that undertaking such a study would delay their plant for at least two years and could set an “anti-industry precedent” in North Carolina.