Three Injured in Canada Wood Pellet Plant Explosion

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An explosion at Pinnacle Renewable Energy's wood pellet plant in British Columbia injured three and resulted in around 30 employees being evacuated.

The incident happened on 9 October after a fire broke out inside equipment used to dry wood fibre. The plant's built-in suppression system had already extinguished the flames by the time fire fighters arrived.

The plant was last inspected on 17 June 2014, when no problems were found.

Fossil Fuel Divestment: How to Evolve the Campaign Beyond its Shortcomings

- by Mike Ewall, Energy Justice Network

Sometimes, environmental movement campaigns that become very popular aren’t the ones that are the most strategic. Trying to divert the fossil fuel divestment bandwagon to a better path hasn’t been easy (or well-received), but some critical examination is long overdue.

As activists like to point out, we don’t have much time to address climate change. We’re already past the point where we can “stop” it, and likely past the points where we can contain it to the two degree Celsius increase that supposedly averts catastrophic levels of climate disruption. Given this urgency, we cannot afford for so much time and energy to be spent on campaigns that aren’t fitted to the scale of the problem.  It’s like scaring people about how awful global warming is, then telling them that they just need to screw in a different light bulb and drive a Prius.

In short, the fossil fuel divestment campaign is symbolic and diverts attention from going after the largest and most critical sectors driving climate change, and from actually disconnecting institutions from reliance on fossil fuels. It implicitly greenwashes other dirty energy sources (some of which are worse than coal) by framing the problem as just about fossil fuels. It similarly ignores the largest cause of global warming: animal agriculture. Unlike the anti-Apartheid campaign, it fails to target corporations in a position to actually change their behavior. Finally, investments are likely to be shifted to smaller fossil fuel corporations, corporations that support the fossil fuel economy, or other damaging investments. Efforts to drive investments to truly clean alternatives will be hampered by economic contradictions, requiring a deeper economic analysis as the campaign evolves.

Divestment is a symbolic campaign, but not a strategic one

Some of the main national organizers of this campaign – even Bill McKibben, in private – have admitted that the campaign is symbolic. Jamie Henn, a spokesperson with 350.org, said divestment alone will not succeed in reversing climate change, stating: “We have no illusion that we can bankrupt a company like ExxonMobil through divestment, but we can vilify them to the point where they begin to lose their political influence.” While campaign supporters have been building arguments for how symbolic campaigns can have tangible results, the reality remains that it’s still a stretch, and that more direct campaigns to fight fossil fuels would do far more for the climate and the communities directly impacted by the industry.

Christian Parenti makes several good points in his late 2012 article in The Nation, titled "Problems With the Math: Is 350's Carbon Divestment Campaign Complete?" He points out that the most infamous climate deniers, Koch Industries, is privately held and is immune to divestment, as is 70% of world oil reserves (and even more of the ‘easy oil’) which are owned by national oil companies that are also heavily insulated from the tactic (though some are now partially traded). He points out that corporations don’t make money on investments (stock is mainly a way to get money out of these corporations), and that their bottom line isn’t impacted by investments, but by those consuming their products.

What Would be More Strategic?

The biggest contributor to climate change (as much as 51%) is animal agriculture. However, as the recent Cowspiracy documentary shows, big environmental groups are unwilling to talk about this and advice that people stop eating so much meat and dairy. The other elephant in the room is natural gas power plants. With methane being 86 to 105 times more potent than CO2 over a 20-year time-frame, and serious leakage of methane gas occurring throughout the natural gas infrastructure (which cannot be brought to levels lower than coal’s impacts), the current push from coal to gas is suicidal for the climate. There is a surge of about 300 gas-fired power plant proposals in the U.S. right now, and the major environmental groups are doing an excellent job of ignoring them, if not still championing the switch from coal to gas. If the time and energy (and funding) put into divestment were put toward stopping gas-fired power plants while there’s still time to challenge most of them, it would be a dramatic and real win. Divestment campaigns and power plant battles both aren’t easy to win, but the track record of stopping power plants is arguably far better than divestment’s track record so far. About 60% of the gas-fired power plant proposals in the last wave of development (10-15 years ago) were stopped. 400 were built. Many more weren’t. Each power plant stopped does far more than all divestment campaigns can claim to – avoiding about 30 years of fracking over each power plant’s lifetime.

Divestment is a student-centered campaign. Even if we don’t leave campuses, there are several ways corporations are tied to universities, including purchasing and service contracts, research grants, recruiting, and ties to board members (often called trustees or regents).

A campus divestment campaign could just as easily include campaigns like the one run by the Ohio Student Environmental Coalition (which Energy Justice Network started in 2006 to fight proposed coal plants in Ohio) where Ohio State University students successfully pressured their campus president to step down from the board of Massey Energy, a major coal mining corporation. Could that also be seen as symbolic?  Perhaps, but corporate influence over those running universities has had effects on curriculum and other corporate-university relationships – more than stockholding has in terms of influence.

Far more relevant would be to get schools and other institutions to replace fossil fuel use with demand reduction and clean, non-burn alternatives. This would directly stop their financial support for climate change, while becoming demonstration sites for how we should all live. Ending reliance on industry-funded scientific research (and getting more public funding for it) would also go a long way to end the “science for hire” that has our universities cranking out “tobacco science” promoting dirty energy.

Bloomberg isn’t something I’d normally cite, but they hit the nail on the head with this recent opinion piece

“If divestment activists were serious about making a difference, setting an example, and drawing the full weight of America’s moral opprobrium onto the makers and consumers of fossil fuels, they’d be pushing a University Agenda that looked more like this:
 
  1. Require administrators, faculty, sports teams and other student groups to travel exclusively by boat and rail, except for “last mile” journeys.
  2. Cease construction of new buildings on campus.
  3. Stop air conditioning buildings, except for laboratories and archives that require climate control. Keep the heat no higher than 60 degrees in winter.
  4. Put strict caps on power consumption by students, keeping it to enough electricity to power one computer and one study lamp. Remove power outlets from classrooms, except for one at the front for the teacher.
  5. Ban meat from campus eateries and require full-time students to be on a meal plan.
  6. Remove all parking spots from campus.
  7. Stop operating campus shuttles, except for disabled students.
  8. Divest the endowment from fossil-fuel companies, if it makes you feel better

Why has No. 8 jumped to No. 1? Because it’s easy. Because a group of students pushing endowment divestiture can shut down a public meeting and be rewarded with the opportunity to hold a teach-in; a group of students pushing a faculty flying ban and the end of campus parking would find the powers that be considerably more unfriendly. Not to mention their fellow students. Or, for that matter, their fellow activists, few of whom are actually ready to commit to never in their lives traveling out of America’s pitiful passenger rail network. This is what I meant in an earlier post where I said that doing the easy but pointless thing is a substitute for, rather than a complement to, the hard and necessary thing.”

 

Dirty Energy is NOT just Fossil Fuels

 

 

Especially since the campaign is a symbolic one, it’s important that we educate people properly and stop feeding the perception that fossil fuels are the only dirty energy source, or the only fuels cooking the climate. This focus on fossil fuels has major blind spots, both for the climate and environmental justice.

Trash incineration, biomass incineration, landfill gas burning and biofuels are all promoted as renewable and carbon neutral, even though they’re worse than their worst fossil fuel counterparts. Nuclear power is also a serious problem, with its own climate impacts, which sucks up the money needed to transition away from fossil fuels.

Trash incineration is 2.5 times as bad for the climate as coal, and is far worse by every other measure of pollutants as well.  New EPA loopholes, as well as Obama’s Clean Power Plan, are poised to have coal plants and all sorts of boilers start burning trash without regulation or community notification. Divestment, like other climate policies, ignores incinerator emissions, even though over half of the CO2 emissions from trash incineration are from the burning of plastics and other fossil-fuel-derived products.

Biomass incineration is 50% worse than coal for the climate, and claims of carbon neutrality have been repeatedly debunked. “Save the climate, burn a tree” doesn’t make for a catchy cause, but forests in the U.S. are being logged for this “renewable” power, and are even being chipped and shipped (with fossil fuels) to Europe to be burned in converted giant coal plants. Ignoring “biogenic” CO2 emissions is just another form a climate denial.

Landfill gas burning for energy is even worse than trash incineration, as organic wastes are continually fed to landfills to become CO2 and methane. Burning the gas for energy, ironically, causes more gas to escape the already pitiful gas capture systems, making it worse to use for energy than to just waste and flare the gas (even if coal were displaced by the small amount of power generated). True zero waste solutions are needed, including keeping organics out of landfills, to tackle this major methane source.

Biofuels are worse than petroleum  for the climate, necessitating that we stop trying to grow fuels (using natural gas-based nitrogen fertilizers and other fossil inputs), and move away from burnable fuels altogether.

Nuclear power is the most expensive (and subsidized) form of power and one of the most destructive and racist. It is a false solution that sucks up all of the economic resources needed to transition away from fossil fuels. It also uses a significant amount of fossil fuels to chew up large amounts of land and bring uranium through four energy-intensive steps of processing before it can be used in a reactor.

By making these dirty energy climate impacts invisible, divestment campaigns feed the perception that these energy sources are valid alternatives to fossil fuels. A campaign that is more symbolic than strategic should at least ensure that its campaigners “get it” about these false solutions, and not pretend that their impacts are zero. More troubling is the fact that nuclear power and incineration disproportionately impact low-income communities and communities of color. Keeping their struggles invisible perpetuates the injustices.

Even natural gas is partially greenwashed by divestment, since it only measures the top corporate divestment targets in terms of CO2 emissions – without including the substantial leaks of gas throughout the system that cause fracked gas to be worse than coal for the climate. If leaked methane was properly accounted for, far more fracking companies would be campaign targets. Since the campaign only targets extraction-sector corporations, the energy utilities and power plant developers driving the market for the gas are left untouched, even though demand-side campaigning would be far more effective.

Fossil Fuel Divestment is NOT based on the Anti-Apartheid Divestment Campaign

 

Fossil fuel divestment is not like divestment from South African apartheid. The Free Burma movement of the 1990s was. In both cases, multinational corporations were pressured to divest from specific countries.  In the mid-1990s, after the Free Burma movement pressured Pepsico to leave Burma, where the company had sponsored trade shows for the military junta, Texaco was the next major campaign target. Texaco was working to build a gas pipeline through the rainforest using slave labor. Soon after the University of Wisconsin system divested over $230,000 in Texaco stock, specifically over this issue, Texaco pulled out of the pipeline project, just before they were about to be the target of a new national student campaign. These victories in Burma and South Africa were possible because corporations were pressured to cut their losses by dropping one small part of their overall operation.

 

Targeting the Wrong Corporations

 

Unlike those earlier divestment campaigns, the Fossil Fuel Divestment strategy is asking Exxon to stop being Exxon. If the campaign wanted to directly change corporate behavior through divestment, it needs to go after the corporations that can afford to make these changes, such as targeting the banks that finance dirty energy, or the cement companies that provide cement casings for fracking wells, or the power plant developers and utilities driving the demand for coal and gas. Such a campaign needs to target the corporations that enable the Exxon’s of the world, not expect Exxon itself to respond to minor fluctuations in stock price.

 

Reinvesting in What?

 

Unless reinvested wisely, money will just shift to other bad corporations, like the banks that finance fossil fuels, or companies that supply them, or other types of dirty energy. Shifting investments away from the top 200 corporations targeted by the campaign could likely mean shifting to smaller fossil fuel corporations, as Haverford College points out:

 

The campaign focuses on 200 companies identified as having the largest proven reserves of fossil fuel resources, but does not address investments in other companies with marginally smaller fossil fuel reserves, or in companies with closely related activities, such as drilling and exploration services. When the College investigated a claim that a portfolio can be ‘optimized’ to exclude the 200 named companies while closely tracking the performance of a broad index fund, we learned that this was accomplished by replacing the excluded fossil fuel companies with other, smaller fossil fuel companies and associated service companies. We question the symbolic power of a strategy that would merely replace certain fossil fuel companies with other players in the same or related industry.”

 

Shifting from the targeted 200 corporations to smaller or ancillary fossil fuel companies or their funders is the opposite of strategic. These other corporations are the ones who could more easily be moved by a divestment campaign.

 

As the divestment campaign evolves, the need for reinvesting in clean solutions has become more of a priority.  However, there are inherent contradictions in trying to play within the confines of institutions that insist on getting high returns on their “investments.” Even the term “investment” is misleading, as putting money into stock markets is more akin to gambling than investing, and is more often about getting money out of corporations (by doing nothing to earn it), than about stock being used to build the company.

 

Marjorie Kelly, co-founder (and for 20 years, president) of Business Ethics magazine, points this out in her book, The Divine Right of Capital: Dethroning the Corporate Aristocracy. After touting socially-responsible business for decades, she came to the conclusion that corporations are inherently incapable of being socially responsible, and wrote that book to outline how corporations should be radically redesigned. The intro of her book explains: 

 

Stockholders fund major public corporations -- True or false?

 

False.  Or, actually, a tiny bit true — but for the most part, massively false.  In fact, “investing” dollars don't go to AT&T but to other speculators.  Equity investments reach a public corporation only when new common stock is sold — which for major corporations is a rare event.  Among the Dow Jones industrials, only a handful has sold any new common stock in thirty years.  Many have sold none in fifty years.”

 

The capitol flow for these large corporations is in the opposite direction, forcing the corporation to internalize profits, externalize costs and constantly grow as fast as possible. The very nature of investing supports an economic growth model that is killing the planet.  Infinite growth on a finite planet is impossible. As Edward Abbey once said, “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”  As a friend put it to me, “first we knew that the earth was flat, then we knew the earth was round… now we know that the earth is constantly growing.”

 

Clearly, we need to move beyond this understanding of the world, as if we can expect corporations to constantly grow the economy, returning profits to shareholders as if resources are endless. If we don’t challenge this premise and these economic models, we’re just reinforcing this market-based capitalist framework that brought us these problems in the first place. We need a steady state economy, but such an economic model isn’t something that an institution can invest in, expecting a return.

 

Are we smashing capitalism yet?

 

After the huge People’s Climate March, I participated in “Flood Wall Street” – a sit-in a few blocks from Wall Street, which stopped traffic (but not Wall Street) for several hours. Many were eager to “smash capitalism” – which I support – but I find it amusing how it’s framed as a one-step act, perhaps to be done on the way home from work. The idea is usually offered up by those who can’t articulate what the first steps might be to smash capitalism. I think it’s safe to say that shifting investments from a set of 200 large corporations to other corporations (large or small) is not a step toward smashing the capitalist growth-based economic model that is cooking our planet.

 

Worker-owned cooperatives and publicly-owned energy systems are one good step away from corporate control. However, they generally aren’t the sorts of systems that return profits to absentee shareholders.  Using investments as the primary tactic limits the campaign to alternatives that are still growth-based and expectant on making money by doing nothing. The best alternative I’ve heard, which is a wonderful idea, is to reinvest endowments in the creation of new cooperatives to reduce energy demand locally and return some of the savings to the investors. We need to hit a point where all home and building owners are approached with offers to fund their maximizing use of conservation, efficiency and non-burn heating and electricity alternatives. This approach couples the investment alternatives with a real way to reduce use of fossil (and bio-) fuels.

 

Evolving the Campaign & "Divesting" in the Broad Sense

 

The two main national U.S. student socially responsible investment (SRI) movements in the 1990s rapidly evolved and radicalized once they saw the need to have a deeper anti-corporate analysis.  That analysis was informed, in large part, by the "Taking Care of Business" booklet that launched the modern anti-corporate personhood movement, and related materials. The 2003 documentary, The Corporationwhich exposes how modern corporations meet the government’s definition of a psychopath, is also an eye-opener calling us to a deeper analysis and more meaningful tactics.  

 

We need to “divest” in a much broader sense. Let’s stop the 300-some proposed gas-fired power plants while there’s still time. Let’s also stop the rest of the dirty energy infrastructure, whether it be the popular pipeline to protest, the not-so-known pipelines, the Bakken crude oil “bomb trains,” the coal and nuclear facilities, or the biomass and waste incinerators. Let’s attack the demand by making campuses and communities into models of how to get away from burning anything to meet our energy needs. Let’s look honestly at the need to end animal agriculture and be willing to talk to people about what they eat, and change institutional choices in the matter. Let’s challenge one another’s environmental organizations to admit that deeper changes are needed, to focus on some of the immediate threats they’re ignoring, and to stop promoting bad policies, like Obama’s Clean Power Plan, carbon tax or trading schemes, and “renewable” energy policies that include biomass or other combustion sources.

 

Plugging in: Students seeking out a more radical (getting to the root of a problem), justice-oriented way to plug in are encouraged to check out the Student Environmental Action Coalition and to explore our campus organizing resources, including our Energy Justice Shale Initiative (formerly Energy Justice Summer) and Frack U. programs, supporting grassroots resistance to fracking. Anyone seeking to work with front-line impacted communities, or wanting to explore how reinvestment can benefit some of the environmental justice communities we work with (like Chester, PA) should get in touch with us at Energy Justice Network and check out our map of communities impacted by dirty energy and waste facilities.

 

Mike Ewall is founder and director of Energy Justice Network, a national support network for grassroots activists fighting dirty energy and waste facilities. 

Biomass Energy: Another Kind of Climate Change Denial

 (Graphic: Indiana Joel)

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We’re all familiar with climate change deniers, cheerfully and/or willfully ignorant folk who refuse to accept that human-caused carbon emissions are responsible for the climate crisis — or that there even is a climate crisis. Those of us who value science and common sense typically have as much patience for these twenty-three percent of Americans as we do for anyone who believes that maggots arise spontaneously from rotting meat, witches cause disease, or the Earth is the center of the universe.  

Recently, a subtler breed of climate change denier has emerged, spreading their propaganda and even infiltrating aspects of the environmental movement: biomass boosters. These advocates for the biomass energy industry often avoid detection by professing concern with carbon emissions. Yet, while cursing fossil fuels out of one side of their mouths, out of the other they bless the burning of one of the world’s greatest buffers against runaway climate chaos — our forests — for energy.

If the climate movement wants to win over the American people and influence policy, it needs to have credibility, which only comes through consistency, and that means distancing itself from the climate change deniers in our midst.

Forests = Carbon

Forests store and sequester mind-boggling amounts of carbon and are one of our last best hopes in fighting climate change. Cutting forests and burning them for energy in polluting biomass incinerators is perhaps the worst thing we can do when it comes to the climate threat.

Biomass incinerators emit higher levels of carbon dioxide per unit of energy than most coal-fired plants, the dirtiest fossil fuel, with some studies demonstrating up to a centuries-long time frame for the reabsorption of this carbon by future forests, and others showing a permanent increase in atmospheric CO2. Some of the more optimistic (and flawed) studies show it will still take decades for the carbon to be reabsorbed by forests cut for biomass energy. Yet, this assumes a forest cut for biomass will be protected and not logged again (a highly unlikely scenario), and will maintain the same rate of growth despite soil compaction, nutrient depletion, and erosion from past logging and impacts from climate change, including drought.

Even if that best case scenario were true, it’s irrelevant. Climate scientists insist the only way to reverse runaway climate change is to drastically cut our emissions now, not at some undetermined point in the future after emitting a massive pulse of carbon out the smokestacks of biomass incinerators.

Only when you bring up this point to biomass boosters do they reveal their true colors, proving that, despite pretensions, they really aren’t taking climate change that seriously at all.

Magic Tree Carbon

When pressed on the reality of curbing emissions today rather than in the year 2114, biomass advocates typically admit that carbon emissions from biomass incineration don’t count because they don’t come from the bad kind of fossil fuel carbon, but the good kind of “biogenic” carbon. In other words, you can cut and burn all the trees you want for energy, because the carbon they emit is harmless, basically a kind of magic tree carbon.

Of course, an eighth grade grasp of Earth science proves that the atmosphere doesn’t give a fig whether the carbon comes from trees, fossil fuels, or unicorn poop, because carbon is carbon is carbon.  

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been spending the last few years deciding how to measure carbon emissions from biomass energy (even though the only honest way to account for it is to tabulate what comes out of the smokestack), with vague plans to come out with its accounting framework for “biogenic” carbon by the end of 2014. The agency’s willingness to even entertain industry’s notion of magic tree carbon exposes the EPA for what it truly is: a political, rather than scientific body. The Obama administration has come out in support of biomass energy, chopping down the low-hanging fruit of “green” energy to make it seem like it’s actually doing something about the climate crisis.

One final point to bring up if you’re ever in a conversation with a biomass booster and really want to watch them squirm. Remind them that the supposedly “biogenic” carbon stored in any given tree actually includes some carbon sequestered from hundreds of years of burning fossil fuels, and when that tree is burned for energy, that carbon too is released back into the atmosphere. If they have a response to this, please contact me and let me know what it is, because I’ve yet to hear one.

Of course, chances are, no matter how much you question biomass boosters on carbon emissions, you won’t get any good answers out of them. Maybe that’s because most of them secretly believe — though they’ll never admit it, perhaps not even to themselves — that climate change simply isn’t that big of a deal.   

 

Proposed Plant to Export Wood Pellets to Asia

- September 25, 2014, Biomass Magazine

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"281","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"line-height: 20.6719989776611px; width: 300px; height: 199px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;"}}]]A proposed pellet plant under development near Mission, British Columbia, aims to produce wood pellets for export into industrial markets in South Korea and other Asian markets. The project is being developed by SMG Wood Pellet Inc., a subsidiary of Vancouver, British Columbia-based SMG Asset. The facility will be branded under the name Mission Wood Pellet.

Paul Adams, operations manager for SMG Wood Pellet, said engineering work on the facility is nearing completion, while fiber supply agreements and offtake agreements are in place. The company is in the process of securing necessary permits.

SMG plans to break ground on the project early next year with operations beginning in the second or third quarter. Once complete, the facility will have an installed capacity of 160,000 tons per year. Initial production will be in the range of 100,000 tons per year. “This is going to be a first-of-its-kind facility in North America,” Adams said, noting it will feature state-of-the-art technologies and best practices with regard to fiber handling and processing.

Stafford Incinerator in Virginia Not “Financially Beneficial”

- by Neil Seldman, August 22, 2014, Institute for Local Self-Reliance

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"280","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"365","style":"line-height: 20.6719989776611px; width: 300px; height: 341px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","width":"321"}}]]The Regional Solid Waste Management Board that oversees the County and City of Fredericksburg landfill will not pursue a garbage and industrial waste incineration-gasification facility. The County received no bid that it considered financially beneficial to the County and City and dropped the project.

StopTheStaffordIncinerator.com has submitted an FOIA Request to obtain copies of the proposals submitted.

Citizens who have been opposed to the project for several years were pleased with the decision and are now pressing the County to implement expanded recycling and composting. Despite having decades left of landfill capacity, the regional authority wanted an incinerator. 

Bill Johnson, StopTheStaffordIncinerator.com activist, wants to unite the government, business and citizens to plan and implement recycling and enterprises expansion under a zero waste policy initiative. The county and city have decades of landfill capacity available; a key reason why there was no need to rush into an incinerator-based solution. “Now is the time to expand recycling and composting so that the landfill will serve households and businesses for generations to come,” said Johnson.

Mike Ewall, director of Energy Justice Network, has been the prime source of technical assistance observes that this is the second politically and fiscally conservative county in the Mid Atlantic region to reject garbage incineration as an acceptable solid waste management approach. Carroll County, MD paid $1 million this year to get out of a contract for garbage incineration. In June, Energy Justice Network helped citizens in Lorton, VA get their Fairfax County, VA to reject a 50 year expansion of a construction and demolition landfill due to close in 2016.

ILSR and Urban Ore, Berkeley, CA supported the citizens in Stafford County and Lorton through workshops and guest articles in the local media.

City of Allentown, PA Terminates Contract for Waste Incinerator

- by Allentown Residents for Clean Air, September 30, 2014, Stop the Burn

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This news surely spells the death of the experimental trash and sewage sludge incinerator that threatens Allentown.

HOWEVER, the company’s air and waste permits are still out there. The air permit could be sold to other companies who want to develop that site. Their waste permit could be used by anyone here or elsewhere in the state, if not challenged.

We also have an ongoing lawsuit to get the Allentown Clean Air Ordinance on the ballot, so that voters can adopt a law protecting the city against incinerator pollution from any company in the future. This is also critical, since the case will affect whether local governments anywhere in the state can adopt their own clean air laws.

Allentown can breathe easy for now, but let’s not go to sleep. This isn’t over yet.

If you can help give back, your donations are much needed and appreciated, and will help ensure that this victory is final and that other communities also get the support they need.

Bioenergy Capacity Continues to Increase

- by Erin Voegele, September 26, 2014, Biomass Magazine

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration has released the September issue of its Electric Power Monthly report, indicating total in-service bioenergy capacity equaled 13,431.4 MW as of the close of July, up from 13,368.4 MW at the close of June. Overall, 313 MW of new bioenergy capacity was added in July, with 250 MW of bioenergy capacity reductions.

According to the EIA, wood and waste wood biomass capacity increased from 8,215.3 MW to 8,329.8 MW. Overall landfill gas capacity decreased slightly, from 2,046.4 MW to 2,044.2 MW. Municipal solid waste (MSW) capacity decreased slightly from 2,230.7 MW to 2,244.0 MW. Capacity from other sources of waste biomass also decreased, from 876.0 MW to 833.4 MW.

Over the next 12 months, EIA data shows 229.3 MW of planned bioenergy capacity additions. This includes 73 MW of wood and waste wood biomass capacity, 33.5 MW of landfill gas capacity, 88 MW of MSW capacity, and 34.8 MW of capacity from other waste biomass sources.

20 Years, Yet EPA Still Fails to Protect Us From Polluting Incinerators

- by Phillip Ellis and Neil Gormley, October 4, 2014,  Huffington Post

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Six years ago, Becky was forced to find a new spot to make these memories after she became aware that levels of mercury, a potent neurotoxin, were increasing in the lake — an increase she blames on the industrial incinerators nearby.

Commercial/industrial waste-burning incinerators like the one near Joe Poole Lake burn waste produced from utilities and mining, oil and gas operations or from the manufacturing of wood and pulp products, chemicals and rubber. About 15,000 incinerators are scattered across our country.

Oregon Site Selected for Biofuel Plant

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Red Rock Biofuels, a subsidiary of IR1 Group of Fort Collins, Colo., will use forest biomass — debris from logging or thinning operations — to produce fuel. It is one of three firms selected for the project, which is intended to produce a combined total of 100 million gallons annually at an average cost of less than $3.50 a gallon and producing 50 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuel. Firms in Nevada and Louisiana also were selected for the project. Details of the contracts were not immediately available.

The plants will produce what is called “drop-in” biofuels, meaning they are chemically similar to existing petroleum-based fuel and can be used in ships and planes without extensive retrofitting.

Thanks to NY Biomass Incinerator, Firewood More Difficult to Find

- by Pete Creedon, October 6, 2014, Watertown Daily Times

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"276","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"line-height: 20.6719989776611px; width: 255px; height: 253px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;"}}]]Always nice to see a company come in an offer jobs and other things that will benefit the area it serves (“ReEnergy wins huge contract at Drum,” Sept. 30).

The question is, at what cost? The people this will affect in a negative way are a small group of people who for the most part will not receive any of the benefits of this biomass plant.

These people are the ones who heat their homes with wood. For the last couple of years as this plant has been coming online, it has become harder to find firewood and at a price that has not been inflated.

There was an article in the paper last year, I believe, how the firewood producers were saying that they have not cut back on firewood production in favor of wood chip production for this biomass plant. That is hard to believe. The company I get my firewood from, I know for a fact, supplies this plant.

Last year, it was difficult to find the wood I needed for last winter. The price was almost double what I spent the year before.