Energy Justice Now - A Forum for the Dirty Energy Resistance [June 2014]

Check out the inaugural June 2014 issue of Energy Justice Network's new publication, Energy Justice Now!
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In the June issue of Energy Justice Now (a forum for the dirty energy resistance):
...and more!!!
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On the Dirty Energy Policy Front

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"207","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 160px; height: 156px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;"}}]]- by Mike Ewall, Energy Justice Network

While Energy Justice Network's work is mainly focused on helping you win grassroots victories, we've had to weigh in on some state and national policies that would have major consequences for how many bad ideas need to be fought. Misguided policies aiming to limit coal or climate pollution continue to push (fracked) gas and biomass/waste incineration as false solutions. We encourage you to look over some of the well-documented comments we put together and to borrow from them in your own work, as needed. 

EPA's CO2 Rule for New Fossil Fuel Power Plants: thank you to the nearly 600 of you who responded to our action alert in May, telling EPA that loopholes for "clean coal" / carbon sequestration, natural gas, biomass and waste incineration are unacceptable! 

Department of Energy Subsidies for Incinerators: a Solyndra-related program to provide billions in loan guarantees to renewable energy and energy efficiency would subsidize trash and biomass incinerators and biofuels, even though the program is required to fund only technologies that reduce greenhouse gases. These technologies are among the worst greenhouse gas emitters! Within just six days, over the 3-day Memorial Day weekend, we pulled together 131 groups on a sign-on letter challenging this, including about 100 grassroots or state/regional groups from 27 states plus DC and Puerto Rico as well as about 30 national / international groups, including some of the big greens: Clean Water Action, Earthjustice, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace USA and Sierra Club.

COMING UP: EPA's CO2 Rule for Existing Fossil Fuel Power Plants: this rule just came out this week, and is riddled with loopholes as we expected. We're concerned that this rule does far too little (nearly 2/3rds of the reductions required by 2020 over 2005 emissions levels were already accomplished without any rule!), and that it could do more harm than good by encouraging a switch from coal to fuels more polluting than coal for the climate, like natural gas and biomass/waste incineration. Biomass is 50% worse than coal for the climate; trash incineration 2.5 times worse.

The plan also would keep open risky and dangerous old nuclear power plants that the industry recently decided it wants to close, and subsidize the building of new reactors, sucking up the money we need for a genuine transition to clean energy. Coal is already on the decline without a CO2 rule due to activism and geology (we've used much of it up and the remainder is getting too expensive to extract). This rule is so weak that it'll do less than what would happen anyway, but could make things worse if we don't beat down these false solutions.

EPA's Waste-to-Fuels (WTF) Deregulation: We're working with Earthjustice and the Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance (GAIA) to figure out how to stop this dreadful trend to redefine wastes into unregulated "fuels" that can be burned in any of about one million boilers in the nation's industries, schools, hospitals and other businesses.

In the States: We've commented and testified on several flawed energy and waste bills in Maryland that would encourage biomass and waste incineration, none of which passed by the end of this year's session. We've also recently commented on Maryland's incinerator-friendly draft Zero Waste Plan and filed comments on New York's new Energy Plan.  Feel free to borrow from our comments in your own advocacy.  We're also working with the Washington, DC City Council to ban styrofoam and adopt a zero waste plan that would start curbside composting, make electronic waste recycling more responsible, and end the city's use of incinerators.

Why Solidarity is Needed More than Ever between Coal, Gas and Incinerator Fighters

- by Mike Ewall, Energy Justice Network

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"206","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"338","style":"width: 444px; height: 333px; margin: 5px 10px; float: left;","width":"450"}}]]Most progress in stopping polluting energy and waste industries is accomplished by grassroots activism, stopping one project at a time. Many assume that grassroots groups are "NIMBY" types just pushing polluters from one community to another. However, 50% to 95% of each wave of industrial development in recent decades has been blocked, be it coal, gas or nuclear power plants, biomass or waste incinerators, landfills or related industries. Most groups quickly move from NIMBY to "Not in Anyone's Backyard" (NIABY) mindsets once they see the bigger picture and get networked with similarly-targeted communities. 

We need to step up the solidarity in the face of new trends, however. We're seeing coal use declining, but rising record levels of natural gas use, and stronger-than-ever push for waste and biomass incineration as a climate solution. We're even seeing this in the Obama Administration's CO2 and waste deregulation rules, which threaten to do more harm than good as coal power plants are encouraged to switch to these false solutions.

It's now fairly well documented that natural gas is worse than coal for the climate, due to leakage throughout the system and the fact that methane is now known to be 86 to 105 times worse than CO2 over a 20-year time-frame. It's also now well-documented that trash incineration is 2.5 times as bad as coal for the climate, and that biomass incineration is 50% worse -- and that these are not "carbon neutral" as claimed. It's also a fact that trash incineration is far worse than coal by every other measure of pollution. 

Despite these facts, EPA is pushing an unprecedented deregulation effort that will allow wastes to become "fuels" that can be burned, unregulated and without community notification, in coal power plants and even your neighborhood elementary school's boiler. This waste-to-fuels rule is a giant, undiscussed loophole.

It's urgent that we band together comprehensively as anti-combustion advocates. Just as it's not acceptable to stop a coal plant and encourage it to be built in the next county or state, it's not acceptable to allow the coal plant in your area to switch to burning trees, trash or gas when those impacts will be felt locally, globally, and across a different set of impacted communities where gas or trees are extracted, pipelines are built, or toxic ash is dumped.

Biomass and Gas Incinerator Proposed for Vermont Yankee Nuke Site

- by Mike Faher, June 3, 2014, Brattleboro Reformer

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"204","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 244px; height: 162px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;"}}]]Selectboard members are touting the potential benefits of new biomass power plant -- with the possibility of a natural-gas component -- that could be built at the Vermont Yankee site after the nuclear facility shuts.

Officials expect to organize a public forum to discuss the deetails of a plant with development costs estimated at $350 million for biomass and upwards of $1 billion for a hybrid facility.

Those involved with the proposal, including a Winhall man who is president of American Generation Partners LLC, acknowledge that the proposal is in its infancy and would have to overcome significant financing and regulatory hurdles -- not to mention acquisition of property from Yankee owner Entergy Corp.

Half the Wood for New Hampshire Biomass Incinerator from Out of State

- by Chris Jensen, May 23, 2014, New Hampshire Public Radio

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"153","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 333px; height: 280px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;"}}]]About 51 percent of the wood purchased for the new Burgess BioPower biomass plant in Berlin during its first two months of operation came from New Hampshire, according to a new “sustainability” report filed with the state’s Site Evaluation Committee.

Thirty-five percent came from Maine.

Five percent from Vermont.

Eight percent from Massachusetts.

And "one truck load" came from Canada.

Baltimore Residents Face Potential Risks from New Incinerator

- by Jaisal Noor, May 27, 2014, The Real News 

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"110","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 200px; height: 200px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;"}}]]VIDEO HERE

JAISAL NOOR, TRNN PRODUCER: This is Baltimore's Benjamin Franklin High. Will a the country's largest incinerator, being built just one mile from here, endanger the health of the students at the school?

The Energy Answers Fairfield Renewable Energy Project will burn 4,000 tons of trash, shredded tires, and cars each day.

Supporters say it will adhere to the strictest air pollution controls in the country.

Hazardous Waste is Not Clean, Renewable Energy

- by Lisa Wozniak, June 2, 2014, Lansing News

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"203","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 480px; height: 410px; float: left; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;","title":"Photo: MLive"}}]]People in politics tell a lot of “success” stories, but one that can be substantiated is the rise of clean, renewable energy in Michigan. Thanks to a law passed with bipartisan support in 2008, Michigan has been challenged to generate 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources like wind, solar, or water by 2015. We are currently on track to meet or exceed that goal, which has resulted in job creation, cost reductions, and cleaner air and water.

Despite a track record of success, however, efforts to increase the use of clean renewable energy in Michigan are under attack. Besides a looming expiration date of 2015 on our clean energy goals, state legislators want to rewrite the definition of renewable energy to include some of the dirtiest, most hazardous substances generated by oil refineries and coal plants. They want us to consider hazardous waste and petroleum byproducts clean, renewable energy.

Energy Justice Network gets 131 groups opposing DOE loans for incinerators

DOE logo

In just six days over the holiday weekend, we got 131 groups signed on to a letter to Department of Energy, opposing billions in renewable energy subsidies from benefiting incineration, biomass and biofuels.

It included about 100 grassroots or state/regional groups from 27 states plus DC and Puerto Rico as well as about 30 national / international groups, including some of the big greens: Clean Water Action, Earthjustice, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace USA and Sierra Club.

Find the final sign-on letter, with links to all of the groups' websites, here:

The letter points out that the law requires these renewable energy loan guarantees to be for technologies that reduce, avoid or sequester greenhouse gases.  However, the incinerator technologies they're considering at the worst greenhouse gas emitters of all: worse than coal!

Other letters sent in by allied groups are linked from this article:

Here's our first media coverage:

Dirty Wood-Heaters

- by Dr. Dorothy Robinson, 

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"205","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"465","style":"width: 333px; height: 323px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;","width":"480"}}]]The most health-hazardous air pollutant is PM2.5 (tiny particles less than 2.5 millionth of a metre in diameter) that cause 10 to 20 times as many premature deaths as the next worst pollutant (ozone).  

PM2.5 penetrate the deepest recesses of our lungs.  As well as causing lung disease, PM2.5 can enter the bloodstream and transport the toxins in air pollution all round the body, causing inflammation, heart disease, cancers, dementia, genetic damage in babies, increased risk of childhood asthma, autism, reduced IQ when children start school and attention problems.