Company to Burn Biomass in Escanaba, Michigan Coal-Fired Plant

- by Jenny Lancour, April 3, 2015, Escanaba Daily Press

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"447","attributes":{"alt":"Escanaba, Michigan coal plant","class":"media-image","style":"width: 333px; height: 228px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","title":"Photo: Escanaba Daily Press"}}]]Anyone wanting to express comments on a company's recent proposal to buy Escanaba's power plant can attend a public hearing next week at city hall, according to city officials.

A public hearing on a purchase proposal submitted by Sterling Energy Group, Inc. will be held during the joint meeting of council and the Electrical Advisory Committee beginning at 6 p.m. CDT Wednesday in council chambers.

Sterling Energy has offered to buy the coal-fueled power plant and equipment for $250,000 and plans to invest additional funds into the property to convert the facility to burn biomass.

The plant has been for sale for several years because it is less costly for the city to buy power compared to generating energy by burning coal. Escanaba has been buying power from a supplier for more than three years.

Council announced SEG's proposal last month but took no action pending next week's public hearing allowing citizen input on the matter.

SEG - headquartered in Gary, Ind. - buys coal-fired plants which no longer have a useful life and retrofits them into biomass-fueled facilities.

Reject the Exelon Takeover of Pepco

Energy Justice Network testified in D.C. against Exelon energy corporation's takeover of Pepco, electric service provider to Washington, D.C. and Maryland. 
 
[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"442","attributes":{"alt":"nuclear plant","class":"media-image","height":"324","style":"width: 333px; height: 227px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","width":"475"}}]]This takeover is a bad deal for the District of Columbia and is not in the public interest. It would hit DC ratepayers with higher electricity bills, would undermine renewable energy and would not provide reliable power.
 
Exelon is the nation's largest nuclear utility, with 23 of the nation's 99 remaining nuclear reactors. 81% of Exelon's electricity output in 2013 came from these 23 reactors. Two-thirds of them (15 of the 23) are in a list of reactors that are "at risk" of early retirement. Five of these "at risk" Exelon reactors have enough of these problems in combination that they're said to "face particularly intense challenges." The costs to keep unprofitable plants running means huge rate hikes for ratepayers. The costs of their closure are even more alarming, due to both the need for replacement power as well as the astronomical costs of reactor decommissioning.
 
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission estimates that the cost of decommissioning ranges from $300 million to $400 million per reactor. Union of Concerned Scientists and the Nuclear Energy Institute both estimate that the average reactor unit now costs about $500 million to decommission. Actual decommissioning costs in recent years have exceeded $1 billion per reactor, as evidenced by the over $1 billion price tag for decommissioning Exelon's Zion reactor in Illinois and the $1.2 billion price tag for decommissioning the Vermont Yankee reactor. The 2-unit San Onofre reactor site in California, closed for good in 2013, has an estimated decommissioning price tag of $4.4 billion.
 
Nuclear reactors are NOT reliable. A reactor closed down temporarily for repairs, or permanently due to costs or unresolvable safety issues requires significant replacement power. Nuclear reactors also cannot take the heat. In the hottest summer days, when demand is highest due to air conditioner use, nuclear reactors increasingly have to curtail power or close temporarily, as they cannot legally discharge their heated cooling water that they cannot adequately cool.
 
Exelon is hostile to renewable energy, despite some minor investments. In Maryland, they're starting to push for nuclear power to be included in state Renewable Portfolio Standards, which would decimate the market for wind power as existing nuclear facilities can name their price and undermine new wind and solar development.
 
Nuclear power is not environmentally sound. To produce the same amount of energy as coal, it lays waste to more land with uranium mining. It consumes extensive amounts of fossil fuels to mine, mill, convert, enrich and fabricate nuclear reactor fuel, and transport long ways around the country between each of these steps, before the fuel even reaches the reactor. Extensive radioactive and chemical pollution contaminates communities each step of the way, including in nuclear reactor communities, where radioactive air and water releases are routine and legal, not to mention illegal releases from spills. 
 
For more info, see www.powerdc.org

Biofuels Gain Traction at Minnesota Legislature

- by Jon Collins, March 31, 2015, Minnesota Public Radio

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"446","attributes":{"alt":"alfalfa grass biofuels","class":"media-image","style":"width: 333px; height: 221px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;"}}]]A bill to create a $5 million tax credit to advance the development of the biofuel industry in Minnesota is gaining traction at the state Legislature.

Newer technologies allow the use of plants like native prairie grasses or alfalfa for conversion ethanol.

The so-called advanced biofuel tax credit was initially opposed by environmentalists because the most common ingredient, corn, can be very polluting.

"It's a summer annual that is in the summer actively soaking up water and fertilizers, but in the spring or in the fall the land is basically bare, and that's when we get the heavy pollution," said Steve Morse, executive director of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership.

But environmentalists were won over by a compromise that requires that any new biofuel plants with state support include at least 50 percent perennials like alfalfa in the biofuel feedstock within five years. Morse said perennials lead to less runoff and pollution than corn production.

Plainfield, Connecticut Biomass Facility Changes Hands Again

- by Brian Dowling, March 25, 2015, Hartford Courant

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"445","attributes":{"alt":"plainfield connecticut biomass facility greenleaf","class":"media-image","style":"width: 333px; height: 187px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","title":"Photo: Leidos Holdings"}}]]

Leidos Inc. is selling its Plainfield wood-fired power plant to Greenleaf Power, a Sacramento company that is buying biomass plants across North America.

Greenleaf Power announced Wednesday it has agreed to buy the 37.5-megawatt power plant in a deal it expects to close later this year.

The company bought four California biomass plants in 2010 and 2011 and a Canadian plant in 2013. In a statement, Greenleaf President Hugh Smith said, "Plainfield solidifies Greenleaf Power's presence throughout North America as the leading owner-operator of biomass power facilities."

Obama Loves Biomass Thermal

- by Biomass Thermal Energy Council, March 23, 2015, Biomass Magazine

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"444","attributes":{"alt":"wood pellet biomass heating","class":"media-image","style":"width: 255px; height: 190px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;"}}]][Biomass industry groups overjoyed with the President’s most recent support for biomass energy. –Josh] 

The Biomass Thermal Energy Council  and the Pellet Fuels Institute (PFI) commend President Obama’s commitment to expanding the use of renewable thermal energy with the issuance of Executive Order “Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade.”

The Executive Order calls for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions across federal operations by at least 40 percent through 2025 through a broad host of measures, including building energy conservation, energy procurement inclusive of renewable thermal technology, and fleet management.

Study: The Dark Side of Forest Carbon Sequestration

 

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"439","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"317","style":"width: 275px; height: 231px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","width":"378"}}]]Science has taught us that humans and trees have a symbiotic relationship: humans and other living creatures exhale carbon dioxide, which trees absorb to produce oxygen, which we then breathe. It’s a perfect circle that maintains life on Earth as we know it. But a recent study out of Rhode Island’s Miskatonic University has identified an unsettling aspect of this natural process.

The study, Rapid Uptake of Carbon Dioxide by Northeastern Spruce-Fir Forests, by Dr. Howard Philips et. al., posits that trees aren’t simply sequestering carbon dioxide voluntarily exhaled by humans, mammals, and other creatures, but are generating a vacuum effect that virtually sucks CO2 from our lungs before we’re done breathing it. Medically speaking, the process accelerates breathing rates, causing shallow breathing, reducing oxygenation of the brain, blood, tissues, and organs. 

More California Biomass Facilities Closing

- by Seth Nidever, March 26, 2015, Hanford Sentinel

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"438","attributes":{"alt":"biomass in california","class":"media-image","height":"410","style":"width: 333px; height: 284px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","title":"Graphic: Airqualityguy.wordpress.com","width":"480"}}]][Notice not a single mention of health and environmental impacts of biomass facilities. -Josh] 

Once upon a time, local orchard farmers taking out trees piled them up in large heaps and struck a match, sending huge plumes of smoke into the air.

More recently, the waste has gone to biomass power plants that crank out electricity, meet stricter air pollution requirements and provide a renewable energy component.

But now that the whole biomass industry in California is threatened with extinction, the issue has become a hot topic in the ag industry.

Growers are asking: If you can’t burn orchard trees that have been removed, and you’ve got no biomass plant to send them to, where does it all go?

Plainfield, Vermont Biomass Continues to Rile Neighbors

- by Eric Blaisdell, March 27, 2015, Vermont Public Radio

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"437","attributes":{"alt":"biomass ","class":"media-image","height":"221","style":"width: 322px; height: 148px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","title":"Graphic: Bumbeck/Seven Days","width":"480"}}]]Things got so heated at Plainfield’s Select Board meeting Monday night in a discussion about Goddard College’s planned biomass-fueled heat plant, that one elected official told board members they’d be in “deep water” if they disregarded some residents’ wishes to have another meeting on it.

The school is applying for a 40-year Rural Development loan from the USDA that would cover 90 percent of the costs for the plant. As part of that process, it needs a letter of support from the town.

Goddard emailed the Select Board on Thursday looking for that support. Chairman Bram Towbin, speaking for himself, replied that the school has “mishandled the community relations aspect of this project” by not telling residents what was going on since the project began. Towbin invited someone from Goddard to attend the board’s meeting Monday to plead its case.

Residents who live near the plant’s site have been fighting it every step of the way. On Town Meeting Day in March 2013, voters rejected a nonbinding article asking the college to halt construction until it could be proven the nanoparticles emitted would be harmless. The debate got nasty, with neighbors accusing each other of being “liars,” “losers” and “jerks.”

Save America's Forests and Wild Lands from Anti-Environmental Congress

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"436","attributes":{"alt":"save america's forests","class":"media-image","height":"189","style":"width: 197px; height: 189px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","width":"197"}}]]The logging, grazing, mining and other extractive industries are mounting an intense attack on our nation's public lands. 
 
The December 2014 lame duck session of Congress saw an ugly brew of anti-conservation initiatives removing legal conservation protection from millions of acres of public lands. But this was just the tip of the oncoming extractive industries iceberg.
 
With Republican capture of the Senate in the 2014 election, the goal of the ultra right wing to privatize public lands may soon become reality. Representative Peter DeFazio’s legislation to virtually privatize and allow clearcutting on one million acres of federal land in Oregon could pass into law in the new Congress and become a model for the rest of our public lands. This anti-conservation juggernaut must be stopped. The landmark environmental and conservation laws that for a half century gave some protection to our public lands are eroding, and will disappear like the glaciers in Glacier National Park or the polar ice caps unless we, the hardcore grassroots, unite and fight back in a coordinated national campaign. 

Radioactive Spikes from Nuclear Plants a Likely Cause of Childhood Leukemia

- by Dr. Ian Fairlie, Ecologist

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"435","attributes":{"alt":"safe nuclear power?","class":"media-image","height":"292","style":"width: 333px; height: 203px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","title":"Cartoon: cravensworld.wordpress.com","width":"480"}}]]On 23rd August, The Ecologist published very clear evidence of increased cancers among children living near nuclear power stations around the world, including the UK.

The story sparked much interest on social media sites, and perhaps more importantly, the article's scientific basis (published in the academic peer-reviewed scientific journal the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity) was downloaded over 500 times by scientists.

Given this level of interest and the fact that the UK government is still pressing ahead with its bizarre plans for more nuclear stations, we return to this matter - and examine in more detail an important aspect which has hitherto received little attention: massive spikes in radioactive emissions from nuclear reactors.