Massachusetts Regulations Deny Taxpayer Subsidies to Biomass Power
May 2, 2011 Final regulations issued by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources
will severely restrict Renewable Energy Credits (RECs)--a taxpayer and
ratepayer funded subsidy under the state Renewable Portfolio Standard
(RPS)--for biomass electricity.
biomass electricity out of the RPS is a win-win for taxpayers,
ratepayers, the public health and the environment," said environmental
attorney Meg Sheehan, President of Biomass Accountability Project and Chair of the Stop Spewing Carbon Campaign, which gathered 130,000 voter signatures to remove biomass power from the RPS in 2010.
regulations will prevent biomass facilities operating at less than 40%
efficiency from receiving full RECs (they would receive half credits),
with full credits awarded for 60% efficiency or higher. Biomass power
facilities currently achieve 20-30% efficiency.
final regulations differ from the draft regulations by increasing the
amount of wood available from timber sales to be used as biomass fuel
from 15% to up to 40%.
Vermont Biomass Power Incinerator Application Withdrawn
(source: Bennington Banner, April 24, 2011)
April 18, 2011 Beaver Wood Energy has withdrawn its application for a certificate of public good from the Vermont Public Service Board for a 29.5-megawatt biomass power incinerator proposed for Pownal, VT.
Organized opposition from citizens, including Bennington-Berkshire Citizens Coalition, raised public awareness about the negative health, environmental and fiscal impacts of the project.
Beaver Wood Energy is moving forward with an identical proposal in Fair Haven, 70 miles north.
Police removing biomass protester locked under vehicle
(Photo: Camilla Mortensen, Eugene Weekly)
First Anti-Biomass Arrests in U.S. in Oregon
May 5, 2011 Three arrests were made at the grand opening of Seneca Sawmill's
18.8-megawatt biomass power incinerator in Eugene, Oregon. Johannes
Pederson used a bicycle lock to lock his neck to the bottom of a running
vehicle touring the facility. Pederson and two others were arrested,
charged with disorderly conduct, and jailed.
Later that week, seven arrests were made at the site of a proposed biomass power incinerator in Scotland, where biomass opponents blockaded access roads.
Wisconsin Biomass Power Incinerator Approved with Sierra Club Support
(source: Journal Sentinel, May 12, 2011)
May 12, 2011
The Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) voted to approve a
controversial 50-megawatt biomass power incinerator proposed by WE Energies and Domtar Paper, despite sharp criticism by the Citizens Utility Board, Packaging Corporation of America, and charges from grassroots citizen opposition that the project emits toxic air pollution.
April, PSC member Lauren Azar stated that the cost of the project was
"unacceptably high" and "getting into the ballpark of a nuclear power
The Sierra Club and Clean Wisconsin
support the construction of the incinerator as the result of a lawsuit
settlement challenging permits for the Oak Creek Coal facility.
Study: Forest Bioenergy Emits CO2
(source: ScienceDaily, 2011)
A new Canadian study sheds more light on the carbon dioxide emissions from forest biomass incineration. Below are excerpts from "Forest Bioenergy or Forest Carbon? Assessing Trade-offs in Greenhouse Gas Mitigation with Wood-based Fuels," by Jon McKechnie et. al., Toronto.
bioenergy in isolation of its impact on forest carbon could
inadvertently encourage the transfer of emissions from the energy sector
to the forest sector rather than achieve real reductions.
use of forest-based bioenergy increases overall emissions for many
years and, in the worst-performing scenario (standing tree harvest for
ethanol production), does not yield any net climate mitigation benefit
over the 100 year period.
carbon loss due to harvest residue collection approaches a maximum of
∼15MtCO2equiv, whereas standing tree harvest for bioenergy results in a
carbon loss exceeding 150 MtCO2equiv after 100 years.
production from harvest residues (tree tops and branches) also impacts
forest carbon stocks; left uncollected, residues continue to store
carbon until released by decomposition or treatment for forest
New Virus Infects Biomass Crops
(source: Futurity.org, Nov. 15, 2010)
Researchers at University of Illinois
have discovered a new virus infecting switchgrass, an agricultural crop
being considered for bioenergy use. The virus, found in 20-30% of a
research plot, may reduce photosynthesis and restrict crop yields.
diseases are potentially significantly threats to bioenergy crops such
as Miscanthus x giganteus, energycane, and switchgrass," says Bright
Agindotan, research assistant at University of Illinois.
is considering offering "Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP)
subsidies to biomass developers seeking to plant 200,000 acres of
Miscanthus across Arkansas, Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Studies: Childhood Environmental Illness Costs $76.6 Billion Annually
(source: Environmental News Service, May 4, 2011)
Studies by scientists at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine
in New York, published in "Health Affairs," demonstrate that exposure
to toxic chemicals and air pollutants is to blame for childhood illness
that costing $76.6 billion a year.
evidence that current ambient air quality standards remain
insufficiently protective for children, ongoing efforts are needed to
reduce outdoor air pollutant emissions and their consequences for
children's breathing," states study author Leonardo Trasande, MD,
associate professor of preventive medicine and pediatrics at Mt. Sinai.
studies call for legislative policy changes including testing of
chemicals currently being emitted, better "premarket" evaluation of new
chemicals, and "epidemiological monitoring and focused health studies of
these proposals would have a significant impact in preventing childhood
disease and reducing health costs," said Philip Landrigan, MD, dean for
global health, professor and chair of preventive medicine and professor
of pediatrics at Mt. Sinai.
|From the Editor
Rachel Smolker & Meg Sheehan, Managing Editors
are moving fast! A major victory in Springfield, Massachusetts, where
the city council voted to revoke a 2 year old special permit for a
so-called "renewable" biomass power project. Meanwhile, on Florida's
Gulf Coast, plans for a 65 megawatt "gasifier" that will burn "energy
crops" such as eucalyptus and arundo donax has mobilized opposition from
environmental justice, water, and health advocates. The incinerator is
being proposed for a community just recovering from decades of toxic
pollution by St. Joe Paper Company and a chemical factory. This is a
microcosm of the bigger question: why use the same polluting combustion
energy processes that got us in this mess in the first place? Let's
put incentives towards non polluting renewables....
fight is heating up as evidenced by protestors putting their bodies on
the line in Oregon and also in Scotland—a clear "NO" to the biomass
|Biomass Buster of the Month
Jana Chicoine - Massachusetts
biomass is going down in flames now that our movement has busted the
carbon neutrality myth," says Jana Chicoine, spokesperson for Concerned Citizens of Russell, formed in 2005 to oppose the construction of a 50-megawatt biomass incinerator.
Jana has worked as a volunteer to educate and activate Massachusetts communities against biomass power and on the statewide Stop Spewing Carbon Campaign to end subsidies for big biomass, among many other efforts.
Thanks, Jana, for your monumental work to protect our health, climate, and natural world!
Big Biomass Goes to Washington
D.C. is abuzz with pro-biomass lobbyists. Nary a week goes by without
new proposals for more subsidies and supports, and less pesky
regulations for biomass incineration.
This past month, Big Biomass and allies petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) to reconsider and amend National Emission Standards for hazardous
air pollutants from boiler "MACT" (maximum achievable control
technology) and boiler "GACT" (generally achievable) as well as "CISWI"
(commercial and industrial solid waste incinerator) regulations.
eager not to arouse the ire of industry, had already indicated its
pliability--inviting the petition on the basis that certain issues arose
after the public comment period or were impractical to comment on.
And of course industry won't pass up an opportunity to make polluting cheaper and easier!
Click here to urge your U.S. Senators and Representative to oppose any and all taxpayer subsidies for biomass power incineration.
Spray-On Solar Panels
Brian Korgel, a chemist at the University of Texas
in Austin, is making paintable solar panels. They are focused on
'CIGS'--copper, indium, gallium, selenide--and they make small particles
of this inorganic material that they can disperse in a solvent,
creating an ink or paint.
these devices are 'sandwiches,' where you have the metal contact on the
bottom and metal contact on the top to extract the charge out; and the
middle part is the part that absorbs out the light," explains Korgel.
This paint, made of the CIGS crystals, can be sprayed on plastic, glass
and even fabric to create a solar cell.