|From the Editors
Meg Sheehan & Josh Schlossberg
This month's Biomass Busters
focuses on the panoply of citizen-led efforts to change the laws that
erroneously promote biomass incinerators as "clean and green" and the
release of three important scientific studies. On the local level, the
anti-biomass burning movement embodies democracy in action, as citizens
from Michigan to Massachusetts go directly to voters and elected
officials with petitions, proposed local ordinances, and a state-wide
the meantime, leading scientists are providing citizens with the data
they need to make their case--June was a watershed month with the
issuance of three key reports. Where mainstream environmental groups
are failing to act, this grassroots movement is picking up the
slack--joining with social justice, public health, and fiscal watchdog
groups to change the laws to end public subsidies for toxic biomass
|From the Forest
Manomet Study Says Biomass CO2 Emissions Worse Than Coal
June 10, 2010 The
Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources issued the long-awaited
study it commissioned in response to pressure from anti-biomass
activists. The study, Biomass Sustainability and Carbon Policy Study, conducted
by Manomet Center for Conservation Studies, confirmed that burning
forests for electricity pumps out more carbon dioxide than coal over a
several decade time frame.
As a result, the State of
Massachusetts is rethinking the Renewable Portfolio Standard conditions
that give "renewable energy credits" to biomass incinerators. According
to Ian Bowles, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs:
that we know electricity from biomass harvested from New England
forests is not 'carbon neutral' in a time frame that makes sense given
our legal mandate to cut greenhouse gas emissions, we need to
re-evaluate our incentives for biomass.
"Clearcut Disaster" Report on Biomass
June 16, 2010 The Environmental Working Group out of Washington, D.C. estimates 30 million acres of U.S. forests are at risk from biomass incineration. According to Clearcut Disaster: Carbon Loophole Threatens U.S. Forests,
4.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide will be released into the atmosphere
absent "radical" changes to biomass provisions in federal climate and
Report co-author Mary S. Booth, Ph.D. said:
legislation supporters need to understand that biomass power can't be
carbon neutral in any timeframe meaningful to addressing climate change.
Biomass power emissions need to be regulated like any other source of
carbon and incentives to use trees as fuel must be removed from climate
who believe wood is the answer need to be honest about how little it's
going to contribute and how much of a mess it's going to make..." said
Stuart L. Pimm, Ph.D., Doris Duke Professor of Conservation Ecology,
Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, who reviewed the
"The Green Lie" Report
June 2, 2010 Global Justice Ecology Project, Global Forest Coalition, and Biofuelwatch released the report Wood-based Bioenergy: The Green Lie,
at the U.N. climate talks in Bonn, Germany, demonstrating that burning
forests for energy is accelerating forest destruction in the U.S.,
Ghana, the Congo, Brazil and West Papua. Fiu Elisara Mata'ese, Director of the Somoan NGO Siosiomaga Society
said biomass will have "serious impacts on Indigenous communities, that
will lose their forests to legal and illegal logging, as well as
conversion to tree plantations.""Changing use of land will have global ramifications," said Simone Lovera, Executive Director of Global Forest Coalition. "Wood-based bioenergy is an absolutely false solution to climate change."
Victory in Michigan
June 27, 2010
Biomass opponents in Traverse City, Michigan are celebrating Traverse
City Light and Power's announcement to "shelve" plans to build up to
five biomass incinerators. Monica Evans of Michigan Citizens for Energy, the Economy and Environment,
one of several groups opposing the incinerators, said: "Burning our
forests isn't the answer. The answer is the conservation of energy, the
generation of solar and wind power and...to stand up to dirty energy and
take back our air, water and soil."
Massachusetts Makes State Ballot
June 23, 2010 Over 120,000 Massachusetts voters signed Stop Spewing Carbon Campaign's
petition to deny "renewable energy credits"--a form of public
subsidy--to biomass and garbage incinerators unless they cut their
carbon dioxide emissions. The Campaign met its deadline for the second
round of signature collection, qualifying for the statewide ballot in
November 2010. The
Massachusetts-wide grassroots movement sprang up in response to five
proposed biomass incinerators being promoted as "clean energy."
Detroit Marches Against Incineration
June 26, 2010
Environmental justice advocates from across the U.S., the Teamsters
Union, and neighborhood residents marched together to the world's
largest waste incinerator (owned by Covanta) to demand its closure. The
action occurred on the last day of the U.S. Social Forum.
Photo: Orin Langelle/GJEP
City Councilor Joanne Watson linked the health problems of pollution to
racism. "There is absolutely no level of toxicity that's acceptable,"
she said, and urged "Zero tolerance for poison and contamination in our
Greenfield, MA Voters Sink Biomass
June 8, 2010
When Greenfield city officials made a closed-door deal with a biomass
incinerator company to sell sewer water for the facility's cooling
towers, citizens researched the City's charter and discovered they could
call for an election to overturn the vote.
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County
crafted three ballot questions that would undo the deal between the
City of Greenfield and the incinerator company. 35% of voters turned
out and voted 5 to 1 to overturn the City's decision.
Janet Sinclair from Concerned Citizens of Franklin County
said the Greenfield vote is an "indication of how people feel about the
[biomass] issue when they have the opportunity to have facts presented
Wyden Act Shreds Forests
In December of 2009, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Oregon Eastside Forests Restoration, Old Growth Protection and Jobs Act, crafted in closed-door meetings with the Senator and a few hand-picked, pro-biomass, conservation organizations, including Defenders of Wildlife, Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center, Oregon Wild and Pacific Rivers Council.
Roy Keene, who has thirty years of forest restoration experience in
Oregon, said the purpose of the Act is to "deliver far greater volumes
of valuable ponderosa pine and chip logs for biomass" and would "triple
the...logged acreage across millions of acres for the next twenty
Former chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Jack Ward
Thomas, wrote that the bill is "flawed, inappropriate, less than fully
informed and has implications for the management of the entire national
Biomass and Particulate Matter
Environmental Protection Agency
pollution--especially fine particles--contains microscopic solids or
liquid droplets that are so small that they can get deep into the lungs
and cause serious health problems.
The size of particles is
directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Small
particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest
problems, because they can get deep into your lungs, and some may even
get into your bloodstream. Particles of concern include "fine particles"
(such as those found in smoke and haze), which are 2.5 micrometers in
diameter and smaller.
Numerous scientific studies have linked particle pollution exposure to a variety of problems, including:
- increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing, or difficulty breathing;
- development of chronic bronchitis
- nonfatal heart attacks; and
- premature death in people with heart or lung disease
|Trashing the Climate
Plug Pulled on Biggest Tire Incinerator
Mike Ewall, Energy Justice Network
In 2008, Energy Justice Network and the DelCo Alliance for Environmental Justice
stopped plans by Koach Energy for the world's largest tire incinerator,
a type that would burn 1,200 to 2,400 tons a day of tires and plastics
into petroleum using a gasification/pyrolysis process, after testing a
pilot scale version.
After kicking it out of Chester City,
Pennsylvania, the company teamed up with Rutgers University's so-called
"EcoComplex" in New Jersey.
Energy Justice Network
just learned that the experimental pilot project lost $1 million last
year, couldn't find investors, was still polluting, and that the
pyrolysis side of the project failed.
The test equipment will be sold for scrap.
Ground Source Heat Pumps
International Ground Source Heat Pump Association
source heat pumps are electrically powered systems that tap the stored
energy of the greatest solar collector in existence: the earth. These
systems use the earth's relatively constant temperature to provide
heating, cooling, and hot water for homes and commercial buildings.
Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency have both
endorsed ground source heat pump systems as among the most energy
efficient and environmentally friendly heating, cooling, and water
heating systems available. Their flexible design requirements make them a
good choice for schools, high-rises, government buildings, apartments,
and restaurants--almost any commercial property.