Port St. Joe-- The Biomass plant had already received all of the government and environmental permits necessary to begin construction. The only thing left was approval by the Port St. Joe City Commission.
Opponents of the Biomass plant were not going down without a fight. Several dozen of them staged a protest outside of city hall, prior to Tuesday night's public hearing and commission vote.
Wearing medical masks and holding signs saying things like “clean energy doesn’t come out of a smokestack”, opponents say they are trying to send a message to politicians.
Several hours later, the debate began at Centennial Hall to accommodate the large crowd. More than two dozen people spoke, some for, some against.
Finally, Port St. Joe Commissioners weighed-in on the $200 million dollar project, which is supposed to create 200 construction and 25 permanent jobs.
“My job is to say, have you complied with all the regulations? Have you met the requirements this city places on you to get a development order? And if that answer is yes, I don’t believe I have the right to tell them no,” said the Mayor of Port St. Joe, Mel Magidson.
In the end, commissioners unanimously approved the plan allowing the biomass plant to be built.
But all of the controversy may have been pointless. The plant's builder, Rentech, doesn't have the financing and city officials say they were counting on government grants, which they say are now gone.