Michigan residents may have ponied up $715 million in subsidies and millions of dollars more in tax abatements for the nascent Gotion Inc. electric vehicle battery plant in Mecosta County, but a wide swath of the county’s residents isn’t taking it lying down.

For its part, the Chinese-owned Gotion has stumbled repeatedly at the gate in its attempts to build its $2.4 billion plant. At Wednesday’s Green Township Commission meeting, CCP Gotion Vice President Chuck Thelen confessed that initial tree cutting on the 120-acre site that began Feb. 14, resulted in cutting down many of the wrong trees.

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“We started to move some red pine trees up front to make room for a guard shack but also the front gate which will be set back from the road to ensure that at least two semi-trucks can come off of the road so we don’t encumber 220th Avenue,” Thelen said, the Big Rapids Pioneer reported. “Our chairman of the board — asked me to stop the cutting of the red pines in that area. He wants the truck parking to be off into the middle of the property so people don’t have to look at trucks. So you will see that we will stop that progress, however, we do intend to do a little more work up front there to get ready for our traffic coming in.”

Thelen added, “He made a very clear statement, ‘Mother Nature has given us these trees; we’re not going to destroy them,’” claiming the company will “will go to every effort to make sure overgrowth and wetlands aren’t harmed.”

In addition, the Green Charter Township Board adopted a resolution at Wednesday night’s meeting to create a Township Planning Commission, which will be granted the authority to impose local restrictions on the CCP Gotion project once the commission becomes fully empowered in 63 days.

One of the Planning Commission’s first order of business, Green Charter Township Supervisor Jason Krause told The Midwesterner, is to demand CCP Gotion submit a site plan.

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“This is an absolute horrible deal for Green Charter Township,” Krause said, referring to the current CCP Gotion plan. “Pretty much what you have is a situation here where everybody else can make out alright using Green’s property, but the residents of Green aren’t really going to get anything.  The only thing that we can hope for at this point in time is that we could say, ‘OK maybe there’s 2,600 people are going to come here, and they’re going to buy some property and build some housing or whatever we could hope for that over the next 10 years. Then maybe some subsidiary companies may be able to buy some property and put something up we may be able to get some tax dollars off that, but that’s all we get,” he said.

Additionally, the Economic Development Responsibility Alliance watchdog group alleged in a letter sent in late January to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that CCP Gotion hasn’t filed any environmental paperwork with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

“To date, Gotion has applied for no environmental permits through EGLE, no soil erosion permits through the county, and has presented no site plan to local or state agencies,” the letter states. “Yet Gotion is preparing to log the site before the end of the month. This environmental situation is about to come to a head. We as representatives of the local community ask once more, urgently, that EPA Region 5’s offices take action on the federal oversight required of this development, before violations occur.”

The EDRA asked the EPA to provide federal oversight of the CCP Gotion project and cites the American Bar Association: “Development projects that constitute major federal action, as defined by law, including those that use federal land, federal tax dollars, or are under federal agency jurisdiction, are required to assess the impact of a proposed project on the physical, cultural, and human environments affected by the proposed project.”

Criteria listed by EDRA to justify its request for federal EPA oversight included, the Clean Water Act’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, which regulates permitting of pollutant discharge for industrial facilities; the Clean Air Act’s National Environmental Policy Act, which regulates permitting of airborne contaminants; and the Clean Water Act, which regulates permitting of development on wetlands and streams.

A 2022 report by a consulting firm contracted by CCP Gotion concluded the plant’s 257-acre site contains more than 60 acres of federally protected wetlands. EDRA also said the CCP Gotion plant threatens Dalziel Creek, a tributary to the Muskegon River. The letter also asserts the CCP Gotion plant would consume 715,000 gallons of water and produce 65,000 gallons of wastewater on a daily basis.