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Environmental Group Criticizes State Permitting of New Trash-to-Energy Facility

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has approved a $69 million trash-to-energy facility in Hampden.

The Natural Resources Council of Maine, the state's largest environmental group, criticized the decision, saying that Fiberight - the company that will run the facilty - did not demonstrate that it has technical or financial capability to produce biogas and sugar on a commercial scale.

Sarah Lakeman, a project director at NRCM, said the state should have been more cautious. "I was shocked to see that the DEP had approved the draft licenses. I would think there would be more scrutiny and caution taken by the DEP for a facility that has yet to be built anywhere in the world."

The nonprofit Municipal Review Committee, representing 187 municipalities, intends to contribute $5 million to the project. Proponents argue that it's cheaper and more environmentally friendly than using an existing incinerator operated by Penobscot Energy Recovery Company, also known as PERC.

Fiberight says 104 towns have committed to sending 100,000 tons of trash - two-thirds of Fiberight's goal.

Construction of the facility is set to begin in 2017. Lakeman said she wouldn't be surprised if the DEP permit is challenged before that happens.