Volume 1, Issue 4 - August 2010
|From the Editors
Meg Sheehan & Josh Schlossberg
world is realizing that biomass burning as a "clean and green" energy
source is a fairy tale based on myths and misinformation. That
realization resulted in a July announcement by the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts that it will move forward with regulations to limit the
types of biomass incinerators that can qualify under the state
"renewable portfolio standard." This decision, based on the scientific
studies reported in the July issue of BIOMASS BUSTERS, reflects
pure common sense: biomass incinerators shouldn't be getting the same
taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies as renewable energy that doesn't have a
smokestack belching out toxic pollutants 24/7/365.
advocates will be working hard to bring their message to other states
whose renewable portfolio standards wrongfully include biomass
incinerators and we welcome your help.
|Massachusetts Plans to Limit Biomass SubsidiesJuly 7, 2010 Stop Spewing Carbon (SSC) Campaign
will not be taking its question to limit renewable energy credits for
biomass incinerators to the November ballot. The decision followed an
announcement by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that it will move
forward with regulatory changes to bring state law in line with current
science and public policy, and will require biomass incinerators to meet
strict standards for forest protection, greenhouse gas emissions, and
is a seismic shift in the way biomass incinerators are treated under the
law. Science confirms that the greenhouse gas emissions of burning
forests are worse than coal and there's no reason to subsidize this form
of energy," said Meg Sheehan, chair of the SSC Campaign. "Our
committed and diverse coalition of social justice, public health,
environmental, forest advocates, and fiscal watchdogs have won a victory
for Massachusetts, the nation, and indeed the planet," said Sheehan.
The Campaign will closely monitor the upcoming regulatory process to
ensure that the laws are strict enough to meet the commitments laid out
by the Commonwealth in its July 7 letter, which can be read in its
entirety at www.stopspewingcarbon.com.Indiana Beats Back Biomass July 7, 2010
A county Area Plan Commission in southern Indiana's Scott County
voted 4-2 against the development plan of a large biomass
incinerator proposed for Scottsburg by Liberty Green Renewables, likely
ending the looming threat of construction. The commission's action is
the result of citizen advocacy against the incinerator on the part of Concerned Citizens of Scott County and others.Ohio Fights Coal-to-Biomass ConversionThe Buckeye Forest Council
is leading a fight against FirstEnergy Corporation's plans to convert
its 312-megawatt coal incinerator to 100% forest biomass. The massive
incinerator would devour 3 million tons of green wood--10 million
trees--a year, requiring a 276% increase in logging above current state
levels. "With 1600-2100 megawatts pending approval" across the state, said Cheryl Johncox, acting Executive Director of the Forest Council, "biomass in Ohio will be a huge sucking machine that will burn up trees across the entire eastern U.S."On May 31, 2010 Ohio Consumer and Environmental Advocates (OCEA) filed a motion asking the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to dismiss FirstEnergy Corporation's application.
|From the Forest
|Manomet Study Underestimates CO2 Emissions from BiomassJuly 9, 2010 Clean Air Task Force has issued a review of Manomet Center for Conservation Studies' Biomass Sustainability and Carbon Policy Study, claiming the study "underestimated the net carbon emissions of biomass power," according to report author Dr. Mary Booth. While
agreeing with Manomet study findings that biomass CO2 emissions exceed
coal and natural gas over a several decade time frame, the report states
that the Manomet results are skewed by a list of inaccurate assumptions
and should be "viewed by policy-makers as an extreme best-case scenario
unlikely to be achievable in reality."The
review also disputes the findings that combined-heat and power, or CHP,
provide carbon "dividends" after only 5 years, stating "actual biomass
emissions likely exceed fossil fuel emissions even under the thermal and
CHP scenarios."The report can be found here. Quabbin Reservation, Boston's drinking water supplyGroups Sue Over GE Trees for Biofuels July 1, 2010
A coalition of conservation organizations sued the U.S. Department of
Agriculture for its May 12 permit approval for ArborGen to conduct 28
"field tests" of genetically engineered, cold-tolerant eucalyptus trees
across seven southern states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana,
Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas. ArborGen hopes to eventually
grow these eucalyptus at a commercial scale for biofuels and paper pulp.
"In refusing to
prepare a detailed environmental review, the Department of Agriculture
ignored serious risks before permitting this action," said Mark Fink, an
attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. The organizations that filed suit are the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Dogwood Alliance, International Center for Technology Assessment, Center for Food Safety, and Global Justice Ecology Project.
Photo: Chris Matera, www.maforests.org
New England Losing Forest CoverJune 8, 2010 Harvard Forest at Harvard University released Wildlands and Woodlands: A Vision for the New England Landscape,
which documents an alarming loss of forest cover in New England
following 200 years of forest regeneration, and calls for retaining 70%
of New England forests.The
report states that "all six New England states are expected to
experience dramatic rates of forest loss over the next 20 years," due to
factors such as development, intensive logging and climate change. The
report also warns of the potential impacts of forest biomass
incineration: "Rising pressures for wood-based bioenergy to supply the
region and other countries may intensify adverse harvesting practices
and substantially change the timber economy."
Senator Tester's Forest Giveaway
Senator Jon Tester's (D-MT) Forest Jobs and Recreation Act (S. 1470)
would designate new Montana wilderness but sacrifice over 100,000 acres
to logging, and require a biomass study to "facilitate and encourage
the use of biomass recovered from forest land as an energy source."
George Wuerthner, ecologist with the Foundation for Deep Ecology,
said: "Well meaning and dedicated environmental groups that
participated in this collaboration adopted a bill that has a direct
financial benefit to private business interests, degrades public
forests, and compromises and restricts public participation in the
management of public forests."
"A number of national, regional
and state wide wilderness advocacy group professionals have told me they
are worried that if Tester's bill passes, it will become the new 'norm'
so that the only way a wilderness bill will be successful is if it is
packaged as a resource giveaway to some industry," said Wuerthner.
Contact Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) and urge him to remove the logging and biomass provisions from the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act (S. 1470). Contact:
202-224-2644 or tester.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm
Biomass: Separating Fact From Fiction
Dr. Tom Termotto, BCIM, DCAE,
Coalition Against Chemical Trespass
not forget the golden rule of energy production: "Garbage in; garbage
out." Ultimately the permitting process for biomass incinerators often
allows for the burning of various types of refuse and other feedstocks,
which will degrade air quality. A close look at any state air permit
application for these incinerators will reveal the mix of carcinogens,
toxins, pollutants, contaminants, and poisons, which is really quite
What follows is an excerpt from the Healthcare Professionals for Clean Environment in their letter to Governor Charlie Crist of Florida regarding a proposed biomass incinerator for Gadsden County, Florida:
incinerators of this type will produce extraordinary amounts of air
pollution to include dioxin, one of the most toxic and carcinogenic
organic chemicals released into the environment...This incinerator will
also significantly contribute to the total particulate matter volume...
matter (PM) concentration directly correlates with a whole host of
upper respiratory ailments to include sinusitis, rhinitis, pharyngitis,
laryngitis, as well as common cold symptoms. More serious respiratory
diseases such as lung cancer, emphysema, pneumonia, tuberculosis,
pulmonary edema, sarcoidosis, pleurisy and adult respiratory distress
syndrome are all greatly aggravated by the various pollutants emitted
from biomass plants.
an age when the nation is moving toward more enlightened energy
platforms concerning production, dissemination and utilization, it is
quite anachronistic that some would have us go back to the Stone Age.
Why in the world, with a global population approaching 7 billion, would
we want to go back to energy sources that are as primitive as they are
|Trashing the Climate
Fighting Toxic Waste Dump Expansion
June 23, 2010
Over 100 Kettleman City, California residents marched and rallied to
oppose plans to expand the largest hazardous waste site on the west
coast, located just miles outside of town. "We don't want an expansion
to what is already a very large toxic dump to add to our burden," said
Many residents blame the dump for
several cases of infant mortality and at least 10 babies born with birth
defects since 2007, such as Maura Alatorre's 2 year-old son born with a
cleft palate and under-developed brain.
King County officials have given the green light to the dump expansion and the project awaits state and federal approval.
Micro Hydro Power: Pros and Cons
micro hydro power is both an efficient and reliable form of energy,
most of the time. However, there are certain disadvantages that should
be considered before constructing a small hydro power system. It is
crucial to have a grasp of the potential energy benefits as well as the
limitations of hydro technology.
PROS: Efficient energy
source. Reliable electricity source. No reservoir required. Cost
effective energy solution. Integrate with the local power grid.
CONS: Suitable site characteristics required. Energy expansion not possible. Low-power in the summer months. Environmental impact.