|From the Editors
Meg Sheehan & Josh Schlossberg
The ground has been shifting under the biomass industry since the publication of our first issue of Biomass Busters
last month! A few significant developments include: the EPA’s decision
not to exempt biomass emissions from its greenhouse gas regulations; a
letter from ninety scientists to Congress urging our Legislature to
close the “biomass loophole;” and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s
suspension of the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, following pressure
from forest advocates.
and medical doctors continue to be galvanized by the public health and
climate change threats from biomass incinerators, communities across the
country keep fighting against incinerators proposed for their towns,
and a national grassroots campaign is bringing together biomass
opponents from sea to shining sea. Read on to find out more!
American Lung Association vs. Biomass
The American Lung Association is a leading voice on the health impacts of biomass incineration. In 2009, the Association wrote to Congress:
Lung Association urges that the legislation not promote the combustion
of biomass. Burning biomass could lead to significant increases in
emissions of nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and sulfur dioxide and
have severe impacts on the health of children, older adults, and people
with lung diseases.
The Massachusetts Medical Society, publisher of the New England Journal of Medicine, insists that “biomass power plants pose an unacceptable risk to the public’s health by increasing air pollution.”
Jefferson Dickey, M.D., internist at the Community Health Center of Franklin County, states that air pollution from biomass…
associated with an increased risk of a broad range ofmedical problems,
from asthma attacks and decreased lung growth in children toincreased
lung disease exacerbations, emergency room use, hospitalization rates,
heart attacks, and death rates in adults.
biomass releases known carcinogens such as formaldehyde, benzene,
naphthalene, styrene, and acetaldehyde. According to the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition:
particular concern to the breast cancer community about this [biomass]
plant is the release of toxic chemicals like dioxin and polycyclic
aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s) into the air in communities already
experiencing needlessly high rates of breast cancer.
Threat to Children
certified pediatrician William Sammons, M.D. is one of a growing list
of health care professionals opposing new biomass incinerators.
Dr. Sammons states in a 2009 letter to the U.S. Senate on climate legislation:
power plants, promoted as “clean energy,” will have a direct negative
impact on the health of our Nation’s children: both immediately and
cumulatively throughout their lifetimes, and for generations to come.
a time when our nation is struggling to meet the challenges of rising
health care costs, the U.S. Senate climate change legislation provides
federal taxpayer money to subsidize and promote biomass burning to
consequence will be the increased incidence and severity of multiple
cardiopulmonary diseases, premature birth, developmental disabilities,
|From the Forest
Scientists Track Biomass Emissions
Ninety scientists wrote
to the U.S. Congress in May urging that climate and energy legislation
not automatically consider burning biomass to be "carbon neutral:"
or cutting forests for energy...has the net effect of releasing
otherwise sequestered carbon into the atmosphere...That creates a carbon
debt, may reduce ongoing carbon uptake by the forest, and as a result
may increase net greenhouse gas emissions...and thereby cut greenhouse
gas reductions needed over the next several decades.
scientists state that biomass emissions compared to fossil fuels
emissions "may be even higher per unit of energy because of the lower
energy to carbon ratio of biomass."
Frankentrees On The Loose
Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project
May 13, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a request by
ArborGen, a multinational transgenic trees company, to plant 260,000
cold-tolerant genetically engineered eucalyptus trees in 28 "field
trials" across seven states along the U.S. Gulf Coast. ArborGen's next
step will be the commercial release of GE eucalyptus for planting on
millions of acres in the U.S. South for lumber, paper pulp, and biofuels
plantations are notoriously destructive--causing deadly wildfires,
depleting fresh water, and escaping into native ecosystems, where they
displace biodiversity and wildlife. GE eucalyptus trees are just the
beginning: if allowed to mass-plant GE eucalyptus, industry will soon be
ready to deploy GE versions of native trees like poplar and pine, that
would inevitably and irreversibly contaminate native forests.Please join the campaign to stop this unprecedented threat to native forests and biodiversity. Go to: www.nogetrees.org.
Biomass Bill Bleeds Oregon's Forests
Samantha Chirillo, Cascadia's Ecosystem Advocates
extraction handouts in the nation's top carbon-storing state pose a
global threat. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has proposed Senate Bill 2895 to
massively ramp up logging in dry, pine-dominated older forests in
eastern Oregon and set 20-year biomass extraction contracts with timber
companies. Alarmingly, several conservation groups, particularly Oregon Wild,
are promoting the bill, inviting more biomass incinerators into the
state (i.e. a 38.5 megawatt biomass incinerator recently proposed for
Opponents at the S. 2895 hearing in Bend, Oregon on June 4 included the Oregon Sierra Club and Cascadia's Ecosystem Advocates. Contact Carl Ross (email@example.com) to sign your group (if you have one) on to a letter opposing this destructive bill.
North Carolina Nixes Incinerator
Surry County Commissioners ended negotiations with Fibrowatt LLC for a
proposed chicken waste incinerator outside Elkin, NC--the result of
strong grassroots pressure by Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Citizen's Alliance for a Clean, Healthy Economy (CACHE), and Energy Justice Network.
Michigan Pushes Back Against Biomass
Michigan Citizens for Energy, the Economy and the Environment
(MCE3) continue to fight a proposal by Traverse City Light and Power
(TCLP) to build up to four ten- megawatt whole tree burning plants,
which would devour 133,000 tons of trees per year.
a dozen local medical professionals sent a May letter asking Traverse
City commissioners to vote against funding TCLP for the June budget
"until further specific data regarding emissions is provided and the
potential human health and local air quality impact is analyzed."
Sign your organization on to the letter to the U.S. Congress demanding the removal of biomass subsidies in the American Power Act by contacting Rob Mida at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-743-4884.
American Power Act Pimps Biomass
On May 12 the U.S. Senate unveiled the American Power Act
and--as expected--this short-sighted bill is chock full of subsidies
for polluting, trash and tree burning biomass incinerators disguised as
"clean and green" energy.
The supposed purpose of the American Power Act
is to reduce pollution, improve the health of families and the
environment, and ensure that the U.S. leads the global community in
combating the threat of climate change. Promoting biomass incineration
is directly contrary to every one of those goals. Instead of biomass,
we must invest in zero-waste, zero-emission renewable energy such as
wind, solar, small hydro and wave power.
A network of
environmental, health, social justice, governmental accountability and
community groups has drafted a letter to Congress requesting the removal
of biomass subsidies from the American Power Act.
|Trashing the Climate
Recycling Dumped for Incineration
Ocean City, Maryland terminated its recycling program in favor of
sending its trash (full of recyclables) to the Covanta trash incinerator
in Chester, Pennsylvania--one of the nation's largest, burning 2,688
tons of trash a day.
advocates have claimed for decades that burning trash for
electricity--aside from creating serious air pollution
issues--incentivizes over-consumption and waste. Mike Ewall of Energy Justice Network, who
has worked against environmental racism in Chester since 1994 says,
"this arrogant and racist decision is yet another slap in the face to
Chester residents, who are now organizing to get Ocean City to reverse
this awful decision."
Visit www.ejnet.org/chester for more information and to sign a petition urging Ocean City to reinstate recycling and keep their waste out of incinerators.