|From the Editors
Meg Sheehan & Josh Schlossberg
is leading another revolution--this time against toxic, climate-busting
biomass incineration. The state government is now restricting the type
of biomass incinerators that can get taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies,
with final regulations expected by December 2011.
opposition to biomass from the medical community continues to mount.
Large amounts of nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, volatile organic
compounds, dioxin, lead, and mercury are released by the burning of
biomass; these pollutants are known to cause cancer, heart disease, and
subsidies continue to be doled out across the nation for these
polluting incinerators, it's great to see a reality check here in
Massachusetts. For more victories against biomass, please read on!
Anti-Biomass Lawsuit in Washington
October 6, 2010
A coalition of seven environmental organizations filed an appeal with
the city of Port Angeles, Washington challenging a city-approved
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and shoreline management permit
granted to Nippon Paper Industries for a proposed 20-megawatt biomass
groups appealing the incinerator contest the EIS on the grounds that it
neither requires Nippon Paper to meter the amount of water they would
draw from the Elwha River for cooling the facility nor does it properly
address air pollution.
NAACP Resists Florida Biomass
The Alachua County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
sent a letter to Gainesville, Florida Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan and City
Commissioners on March 1, 2010 asking them to "withdraw your support for
this costly and risky biomass plant," in reference to a 100-megawatt
incinerator proposed by the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center, LLC.
Dr. Michael V. Bowie, President of the Alachua County Branch,
cited "serious questions" regarding the proposed project, noting that
"African Americans constitute a large percentage of the lower income
population in Gainesville."
Biomass Incineration Threatens Georgia
Power, LLC has proposed a 40-megawatt biomass incinerator for Valdosta,
Georgia which would emit 247 tons of nitrogen oxide, 247 tons of sulfur
dioxide, 60 tons of volatile organic compounds (VOC's), and 135 tons of
particulates, according to Michael Noll of Wiregrass Activists for Clean Energy.
The facility will also require 750,000 gallons of water a day for
cooling and will burn sludge from a water treatment facility, as well as
elementary schools are located within 1 mile of the proposed
incinerator site while a third school is located less than 2 miles away.
Biomass Opponents Receive Award
October 2, 2010 The Stop Spewing Carbon (SSC) Campaign was presented with the John O'Connor Grassroots Leadership Award by the Massachusetts chapter of Clean Water Action.
The Massachusetts-based coalition of health, environmental and fiscal
accountability organizations formed in 2009 to oppose five biomass
incinerators proposed for the state.
Chair Meg Sheehan said biomass incineration is "one of Massachusetts'
greatest threats to human health, the climate, our environment, and our
clean energy future." She said that SSC's accomplishments were
made possible "through the hard work, dedication and support of dozens
of volunteer organizers across Massachusetts."
|From the Forest
Study: Heavy Metals in Biomass Ash
1996 study from Graz, Austria demonstrates that ash from burning
biomass can contain heavy metals such as cadmium: "besides nutrients,
the ash also contains heavy metals."
The study, From waste to raw material--the route from biomass to wood ash for cadmium and other heavy metals,
by M. Narodoslawsky and I. Obernberger of the Institute for Chemical
Engineering at Graz University of Technology, discusses the use of
biomass ash as agricultural fertilizer, stating that "cadmium poses a
special risk to the use of wood ash in agriculture."
McNeil generating station, a 50-megawatt biomass incinerator in
Burlington, Vermont, distributes its ash to local farmers for use as
fertilizer, including organic farms.
Biomass Expansion in Northeast
The Wilderness Society has published a map
depicting existing and proposed biomass facilities in the northeastern
U.S., including stand-alone electricity facilities, biomass co-firing
with coal, combined heat and power (CHP), biofuels production, and
The Wilderness Society does not oppose all biomass incineration:
Wilderness Society advocates for public policy that ensures that
biomass energy facilities are sized and fueled properly, and meet
efficiency and forest sustainability standards, so that permitted
facilities provide a net benefit to climate and the environment over
time. Not all biomass is 'carbon neutral,' and a proliferation of
facilities drawing from the same woodshed is clearly a threat to
sustainability and net climate benefit. The purpose of this map is not
to single out any individual plant, but to demonstrate that the
accumulated effects of existing and planned facilities are potentially
The circles represent the wood sourcing area.
Worst Year for Western Timber
The Western Wood Products Association
announced that in 2009 western states produced the lowest amount of
timber since records began in the late 1940's, approximately 10.39
billion board feet.
Less logging means that less of an already
limited supply of "slash" or other forest residue will be available for
use in existing and proposed biomass incinerators.
Dave Schott, spokesperson for the Southern Oregon Timber Industry Association,
believes that 2010 totals might be even lower, blaming a poor housing
market and struggling economy. Lower timber demand has resulted in lower
prices, with the wholesale value of 2009 timber production estimated at
$2.69 billion--down 28% from 2008.
"In light of the those timber harvest numbers for Oregon," said Shannon Wilson, co-director of Cascadia's Ecosystem Advocates
and an ex-mill worker, "corrupt state and federal agencies as well as
Oregon's larger environmental groups grease the wheels for the timber
syndicate to continue to decimate Oregon's forests, poison the land and
rivers with herbicides, and drive salmon runs into extinction."
Keene, forester of 30 years based in Eugene, Oregon said "at some point
in the very near future [wood] chip prices could exceed saw log
prices." Keene said to expect "lots of trees to get logged and burned
as fuel or ground into pellets."
Contact Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) at (202) 224-5521 and urge him to remove all biomass provisions from the Renewable Electricity Promotion Act of 2010 (S. 3813).
Renewable Electricity Promotion Act
Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) plans to introduce the Renewable Electricity Promotion Act of 2010 (S. 3813)
into the Senate, requiring utilities to source 15% of their electricity
from sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal, along with provisions
encouraging biomass incineration.
The Anti-Biomass Incineration & Forest Protection Campaign,
a national coalition of health, climate, forest, environmental justice,
and clean energy groups is circulating a sign on letter to Senator
Bingaman stating that "defining the combustion of biomass, solid waste
and landfill gas as 'renewable energy' will threaten air quality, public
health, and the environment, and fail to address the climate crisis."
letter also states that "further subsidizing combustion only
perpetuates fundamentally mistaken policies and undermines our
transition to a clean energy future."
Latino Groups Support Air Protection
September 29, 2010 A coalition of 19 Latino groups representing over 5 million Latino citizens across the U.S., including Voces Verdes, National Hispanic Medical Association, and National Latino Coalition on Climate Change,
sent a letter to President Obama and the U.S. Congress asking them to
"oppose any legislation that would block or delay the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) from enforcing the Clean Air Act."
letter states that "an estimated 66 percent of U.S. Latinos--25.6
million people--live in areas that do not meet the federal government's
air quality standards." The letter also claims that global warming will
negatively affect many Latino communities "by exacerbating problems with
ground level ozone formation, a primary contributor to asthma and other
letter references an EPA finding from 2009 that carbon dioxide
emissions "endanger the public health and welfare" and should be covered
under the Clean Air Act.
letter states that "global warming pollution is dangerous to our health
and environment," asserting that the EPA is legally mandated to enforce
"standards under the Clean Air Act to control carbon pollution from
cars, power plants, and other industrial sources."
|Trashing the Climate
Global Day of Action Against Waste and Incineration
Ananda Tan, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
time to celebrate GAIA's 10th Anniversary and organize for the Global
Day of Action Against Waste and Incineration on December 1, 2010.
year's working theme will be "GAIA: Celebrating 10 years of community
action for Zero Waste solutions," which aims to highlight community
solutions to address wasteful and end-of-pipe dirty technologies. We
have been fighting together for a decade now--even longer for many of
us--and we have seen this movement grow and become stronger and diverse.
Let us use this strength to inspire and empower more people around the
To join, please email anne [at] no-burn.org or gigie [at] no-burn.org.
The Transition Movement
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is a vibrant, grassroots movement that seeks to build community
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and the economic crisis. It represents one of the most promising ways of
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