During the spiking outbreaks of COVID-19 cases throughout South Carolina, nonprofit and community-based organizations are hosting a caravan protest at the state’s capital. Protesters will be able to show their dissent while safely social distancing in their own cars. The outcry began when ENVIVA, the world’s largest biomass wood pellet company requested a permit from South Carolina DHEC to expand its production in Greenwood, SC. Greenwood, like many other communities throughout the states, has BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and low income citizens who suffer disproportionately from preexisting conditions like respiratory illnesses. It is a well-known scientific fact that people with preexisting conditions have disproportionate health impacts and our senior citizens are more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 and becoming ill or a fatality. During the recent virtual public hearing on Enviva’s expansion request, community members and organizations asked that the permit be denied or postponed during the pandemic.
All across this country and around the world, essential services and production have been limited in order to ensure the safety of people. There is currently no market for Enviva’s products in the United States. Its biomass wood pellets are burned along with coal to produce electricity in Europe and Asia. So, if schools, businesses, governments, and the lives of everyday citizens can be reduced, restricted, or shut down because of COVID-19, then Enviva should be able to do the same.
Enviva’s product is non-essential both to the citizens of Greenwood, SC and to our economy.
Many other organizations throughout the state of South Carolina, have expressed the same concern and are joining the protest caravan. Some of the organizations include Dogwood Alliance, New Alpha CDC, The Whitney M. Slater Foundation, Midlands Sierra Club, Kingdom Living Temple, Healthy Communities Sierra Club, Pee Dee Sierra Club, Beyond Coal Sierra Club, Richland County Black Collective, Environmental Action Group, SC EJ Network, Sankofa, Carolina For All, and The Pamplico Stop The Pipeline Committee.
The caravan will take place on September 11, 2020 at 12 noon. It will begin from the historic African American Zion Baptist Church at 801 Washington Street, Columbia, SC 29501.
The protest will then proceed to SC DEHC state office at 2100 Bull St, Columbia, SC 29201 and on from there to the Governor’s Mansion at 800 Richland St, Columbia, SC 29201.