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The Biomass Monitor

The Biomass Monitor monthly newsletter is the nation's leading publication covering the health and environmental impacts of bioenergy.

Current Issue: Mining the Soil for Biomass Energy [April 2015]

 

The Biomass Monitor
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The nation's leading publication covering the health and environmental impacts of bioenergy.

Made possible by funding from Energy Justice Network, Florida Environmental Justice Network, and Florida League of Conservation Voters

Editors: Josh Schlossberg, Mike Ewall, and Samantha Chirillo

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Biomass Monitor Blog

Media Disinformation on Biomass

- by Chris Matera, Massachusetts Forest Watch 

Some people might call it a media failure that tree-fueled biomass energy, one of the dirtiest, most carbon intense forms of energy that exists, has a “clean” and “green” reputation with much of the public. 

It is not a media failure, it is a media success when we acknowledge that the mainstream media does not work for the public, or for uncovering the truth about matters of importance, and has devolved into nothing but paid distributors of misinformation used to benefit their corporate masters.   

That so many can be led to believe that a drastic increase in cutting and burning of forests is going to “lower” carbon emissions, and “help” the environment, in spite of indisputable, strong scientific evidence and common sense to the contrary, is a sad testimony to this malevolent power. 

This serious problem of media disinformation at the service of wealthy and powerful interests cuts across all issues of importance to the public. If called upon to do so by their paymasters, these presstitutes will diligently work to convince the public of anything, even that water runs uphill.  

With biomass energy, even the label biomass is indicative of the spin applied to most issues today. If the public were told they are going to be forced to subsidize a massive increase of cutting and burning of forests to “help” the environment, they would likely object. 

Instead they are sold industry funded, think tank created, focus group tested fuzzy labels like “biomass” and convinced that fact is fiction, and yet again, society marches off on the exact opposite path we need to be on, in order to do the bidding of a few self serving vested interests. 

In this case, the timber and energy industries, with the crucial support of the presstitute media, have snookered a well intentioned public into thinking they are sacrificing to help our environment, when in fact, under a “green” fog, they are literally paying the planet wreckers to increase cutting and burning of forests, which is just about the worst thing possible for global warming, air pollution and forest protection.

Oregon Senate OK’s Carbon Neutral Biomass Bill

- April 9, 2015, KTVZ

carbon power plantState Sen. Tim Knopp (R- Bend) carried Senate Bill 752 on the Senate floor Monday and the effort to declare biomass "carbon-neutral" sailed through unanimously.

SB 752 declares biomass to be carbon neutral, taking a rule previously created by the Department of Environmental Quality and making it law. It is chief sponsored by Knopp and Sen. Chris Edwards (D-Eugene), chair of the Senate Environment and National Resources Committee.

The bill passed out of committee last week on a bipartisan, unanimous vote and did the same on the Senate floor Monday.

"I believe it's important for Oregon to endorse the carbon neutrality of biomass. We have the opportunity to create jobs while also pursuing sound environmental policy." said Knopp.

SB 752 now heads to the House, where Knopp hopes it will be taken up soon. "This is a good bill, especially for rural Oregon," he said." I'm looking forward to the House sending this bill to the governor for her signature."

Chinese Incinerator Plan Cancelled After Thousands Join Protests

- by Mimi Lau, April 9, 2015, South China Morning Post

Chinese Incinerator ProtestA western Guangdong city has cancelled a plan to build an incinerator that prompted a protest - of up to 10,000 people on some accounts - during which three police cars were flipped and a duty office vandalised.

Luoding city government posted two letters on its website on Wednesday announcing the decision. One informed the Langtang township government that it had decided to cancel the project, which Langtang had brokered with China Resources Cement Holdings. The second urged residents to stop blocking roads, vandalising property or disturbing public order.

The decision came after residents of the town engaged in a defiant stand-off with police on Tuesday, in protest against what they said was the violent handling of a peaceful sit-in against the incinerator on Monday.

"People are angry with the site selection of the incinerator as it is within a 1km radius of people's homes," said one young resident. "The cement factory is producing enough pollution, we don't need another polluter."

Shuttered Claremont, New Hampshire Incinerator to Reopen

- by Patrick O’Grady, April 15, 2015, Valley News

wheelabrator incinerator in claremont new hampshireThe shuttered Wheelabrator incinerator on Grissom Lane was sold at auction Tuesday for $1.63 million, with the buyer saying he plans to use it to burn municipal waste.

As several bidders stood outside the plant hoping to pick up pieces of equipment at a bargain price, auctioneer Stuart Millner explained that he would allow a bidder to buy everything, including about 9 acres of land.

Millner started the bidding at $1.5 million and Ed Deely — who said he was there on behalf of Hybrid Tech Farms — quickly raised it to the final price of $1.63 million. Other bidders who were not present at the site communicated with Millner by phone, but it was unclear how many there were.

The sale price was referred to as “restricted,” which Deely explained means there will be restrictions, agreed to with Wheelabrator, on the municipalities from which the company can accept solid waste. Late Tuesday, Deely said it is too early to predict when the sale would be finalized or when the plant would start burning trash.

Biomass Corporation Sues Federal Gov’t for $47 Million

- by Jacob Fischler, April 9, 2015, Law 360

department of the treasuryMeadWestvaco Virginia Corp. slapped the federal government with a $47 million suit in the Court of Federal Claims on Thursday, alleging the U.S. Department of Treasury underpaid the company for the construction of a biomass energy generator.

Under Section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the government was obligated to pay 30 percent of the qualified cost to MeadWestvaco of building an open-loop biomass energy facility at its Covington, Virginia, paper mill in 2013, or about $85.9 million, the company says.

But the government paid only about $38.9 million. Most of the power produced at the facility was sold to Virginia Electric & Power Co., but the government made the reduction on the grounds that the company was reusing some of the excess low-pressure steam from the biomass facility to heat the facility itself and the nearby paper mill, the company says.

MeadWestvaco argues it was actually being more efficient in its use of the low-pressure steam and said the government’s logic was completely off-base.

“The government's determination is so erroneous and uninformed that it is entitled to no deference and should be discarded completely,” the complaint says.

Because Section 1603 is a money-mandating statute, qualifying projects automatically earn reimbursement of 30 percent of their costs for the necessary parts of the projects, MeadWestvaco says. The total cost to the company of building the biomass facility was $291 million, with $286 million used on qualifying portions.

Mining the Soil for Biomass Energy | Biomass Truth Conference Call

Mining the Soil for Biomass Energy - Thursday, April 16 at 1 pm PT / 4 ET

logging in white river national forest coloradoJon Rhodes, watershed hydrologist, has more than thirty years of professional experience evaluating the impacts of logging and road building on forest ecosystems and watersheds. Jon runs Planeto Azul Hydrology, which provides affordable watershed expertise for a wide variety of conservation efforts.

Call in on Thursday, April 16 at 1 pm PT / 4 ET to learn about the impacts of "fire fuels reduction" and biomass energy logging on forest soils, a precious resource thousands of years in the making and the foundation of forest ecosystems.

Email thebiomassmonitor AT gmail.com for call-in number and access code. 

The Biomass Monitor hosts Biomass Truth Conference Calls every 3rd Thursday of the month. Go to thebiomassmonitor.org for more info or to subscribe to free monthly issues of The Biomass Monitor

USDA Spends $9 Million More on Biomass Energy

- U.S. Forest Service, April 9, 2015

usda forest service logoToday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the award of over $9 million to expand and accelerate wood energy and other wood product markets. The federal funds will leverage $22 million in investments from partners, resulting in a total investment of $31 million in 23 states.

"Working with our partners, the Forest Service is promoting deployment of new technologies, designed to support new market opportunities for wood energy and innovative wood building materials," said Vilsack. "This funding also supports forest management needs on the National Forest System and other forest lands throughout the United States."

"The Forest Service recognizes the need for a strong forest products industry to help accomplish forest restoration work," said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "One of the best opportunities for reducing the cost of restoration treatments is to ensure strong markets for the byproducts of these treatments."

This year over 100 proposals were received for the Wood Innovations grant program, highlighting the expanding use of wood as a renewable energy source and as a building material. The awarded funds will stimulate the use of hazardous fuels from National Forest System lands and other forested lands to promote forest health while simultaneously generating rural jobs.

For more information on the grant and cooperative agreement program, visit http://www.na.fs.fed.us/werc/wip/2015-rfp.shtm.

States receiving funding include: Alaska, Ariz., Calif., Colo., Idaho, Ill., La., Mass., Mich., Minn., Mont., N.C., Neb., Nev., Ore., Pa., S.C., S.D., Utah, Va., Vt., Wash., and Wis. See a complete list of the awards

Biomass Company Owes Lawrence County, Ohio Back Taxes

- Benita Heath, April 8, 2015, Ironton Tribune

corporate tax cartoonTwo months after Biomass owner Mark Harris paid off two-thirds of the back taxes he owed on property at The Point industrial park, he has yet to pay any of the first half taxes for 2014.

Those taxes, due on March 6, total $5,193.49 on all six parcels, plus a 10 percent penalty. On top of that Harris has not paid 3,975.25 on two parcels with a delinquency dating back to 2011.

Lawrence County Treasurer Stephen Burcham and Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney Brigham Anderson started in October 2013 to get the back taxes paid, first by sending Harris a notice.

Then in July of 2014, a foreclosure hearing was scheduled but Harris called the treasurer saying he had only received the notice 10 days prior.

At that time Burcham gave Biomass 90 days to come up with the more than $45,000 it owed the county then on all six parcels.

Study: Biofuel Crops Replacing Grasslands, Contributing to CO2 Emissions

- April 4, 2015, Grand Island Independent

oglala national grasslandsA new study from University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers show that crops, including the corn and soybeans used for biofuels, expanded onto 7 million acres of new land in the U.S. over a recent four-year period, replacing millions of acres of grasslands.

The study — from UW-Madison graduate student Tyler Lark, geography professor Holly Gibbs and postdoctoral researcher Meghan Salmon — addresses the debate over whether the recent boom in demand for common biofuel crops has led to the carbon-emitting conversion of natural areas. It also reveals loopholes in U.S. policies that may contribute to these unintended consequences.

 “We realized there was remarkably limited information about how croplands have expanded across the United States in recent years,” said Lark, the lead author of the study. “Our results are surprising because they show large-scale conversion of new landscapes, which most people didn’t expect.”

The conversion to corn and soybeans alone, the researchers say, could have emitted as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as 34 coal-fired power plants operating for one year — the equivalent of 28 million more cars on the road.

Fire at Biomass Power Facility in Thailand

- April 8, 2015, Bangkok Post

krabi thailand biomass power facilityA biomass power plant with large piles of palm kernel shells used for fuel caught fire in Khao Phanom district of Krabi early Wednesday morning, and damage was estimated at 100 million baht. 

The fire at Saraff Energies Co started about 1.30am. The plant was temporarily closed for maintenance. 

It first emerged at a grinder and then burnt a conveyor belt and spread to hundreds of tonnes of stored palm kernel shells used as fuel at the biomass power plant on Nua Khlong-Chai Buri Road.

More than 10 fire engines and crews from four sub-districts battled the blaze, which took more than four hours to control. The fire destroyed the steel warehouse where palm kernel shells were stored over an area of about two rai. The fire extinguishing system at the plant was out of service at the time.

Two Myanmar workers were injured. One suffered burns and the other cut his leg escaping from the plant.

The power plant is part of the very small power producer (VSPP) programme and receives government support. It normally generates about 10 megawatts of electricity and sells the power to the Provincial Electricity Authority.

Police said damage was put at 100 million baht.