Valdosta, Georgia Biomass Power Proposal Expires
(source: Valdosta Daily Times, June 1, 2011)
A proposal for a controversial 40-megawatt biomass power incinerator for Valdosta, Georgia may be canceled after developer Wiregrass Power missed a deadline for construction laid out by the Industrial Authority, according to an “Economic Development Agreement.”
was the most diverse group of people that I have ever seen for any
citizen’s group in Valdosta,” said Leigh Touchton, President of the Valdosta Chapter of NAACP, which has opposed the facility due to public health and environmental justice concerns.
According to Wiregrass Activists for Clean Energy
(WACE), one of several anti-biomass citizens’ groups in the area, the
facility would have burned 640,000 tons of wood and 492 tons of sewage
sludge annually, and been located 1.5 miles away from three elementary
schools, seven churches, a retirement community and residential
Valdosta, GA residents say no to biomass power
(photo: Valdosta Daily Times, June 1, 2011)
Springfield, Mass. City Council Revokes Biomass Power Permit
(source: Shane Symolon, WWLP.com, May 23, 2011)
Springfield, Massachusetts City Council has voted 9-2 to revoke a
special use permit for the construction of a 35-megawatt biomass power
incinerator by Palmer Renewable Energy.
concerns that have been expressed over the air pollution from this kind
of project, that kind of concern is going to carry the day,” said Sue
Reid, of Conservation Law Foundation, one of several organizations and citizens groups that organized to oppose the facility.
is designated an “environmental justice” community by the EPA, with its
population having a significant percentage of low-income residents and
people of color.
Mecklenburg County, North Carolina Closes Two Incinerators
May 5, 2011 Mecklenburg Solid Waste has stated they will not recommend engaging with ReVenture
to build a trash gasification incinerator, which would have burned
370,000 tons of garbage per year. The decision follows the news that
the BMWNC medical waste incinerator has closed and will be
Port of Stockton, Calif. Coal Burner to Convert to Biomass Power
(source: Brighter Energy News, June 15, 2011)
The Port of Stockton District Energy Facility will be converting from burning coal to 100% biomass power, after receiving a permit from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. The facility would provide 45-megawatts of electricity.
The developer, DTE Energy Services, has already made similar conversions in Cassville, Wisconsin and another project is moving forward in Bakersfield, Calif.
from conversion of coal facilities to burning biomass, a current trend
is co-firing biomass with coal, which allows coal facilities to remain
open while qualifying for “renewable” energy incentives.
Medical Society Opposes Biomass Power
Below are excerpts from a May 17, 2011 medical report on biomass power incineration by the Pioneer Valley Physicians for Social Responsibility.
US EPA estimates that...a daily increase of 25 mcg/m3 of PM2.5 is
associated with an increase of about 5% in the cardiac and pulmonary
mortality rates. The shape of the dose response relationship is roughly
linear with no evidence of threshold. This means that any increase in PM
levels will be associated with an increase in the mortality rate.
addition to primary PM, secondary particles are formed in the
atmosphere...These secondary particles are just the right size (less
than 2.5 micrometer aerodynamic diameter, PM 2.5) to penetrate deeply
into the lungs causing many adverse health effects, including shortening
life expectancy. These small particles are the pollutant of greatest
concern from biomass combustion.
of epidemiologic studies have described an association between
combustion related air pollutants and a broad array of adverse health
effects ranging from rhinorrhea to cardiac arrest."
Satellite Tool Monitors Ecosystem Impacts from Biofuels
June 2, 2011
A new online tool uses satellite data to track impacts of biofuels
expansion on global forest ecosystems and agricultural soil
maps the "ecosystems where biocarbon is stored, identifies vegetation
at risk from land use change and monitors where...forest is converted to
agriculture." Users can map out an area up to 2.5 million hectares to
determine the amount of carbon currently stored.
The project is funded by the nonprofit Greenergy, with involvement from Ecometrica, the University of Edinburgh and the National Centre for Earth Observation.
Clearcutting & tree-farming in Tennessee
(photo: Southwings, North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy, Denny Haldeman)
USDA: 23 Million Acres of Southern Forests to Disappear in 50 Years
Below are excerpts from the "Southern Forest Futures Project: Summary Report," US Department of Agriculture,
May 12, 2011. The report predicts a loss of up to 23 million acres of
Southern forests by 2060 due to biomass energy, urbanization, weather
patterns, invasive species, and land ownership changes.
"Bioenergy futures could bring demands that are large enough to trigger changes in forest conditions, management, and market.
forecasts show wood use for bioenergy starting with and then quickly
exhausting harvest residuals and other available wood waste. As a
result, bioenergy demand would lead to additional harvesting of raw
material, especially softwood pulpwood.
of wood use for bioenergy linked to U.S.D.A. projections suggests a 54-
to 113-percent expansion of harvesting levels over current levels by
2050...lead[ing] to important changes in southern forests.
levels of woody biomass harvests could lead to a reduction of stand
productivity, deterioration of biodiversity, depletion of soil
fertility, and a decline in water quality."
|Letter to the Editor
THE BIOMASS MONITOR
is looking to open the biomass discussion to our readers. Please send
your 150 word response to any of our articles (longer submissions will
be edited) to thebiomassmonitor [at] gmail.com. One letter will be
published per issue. We look forward to hearing from you!
|From the Editor
Rachel Smolker, Co-Managing Editor
steps forward and two steps back. That seems to be the way it goes
these days with most efforts to protect public health and the
Some significant victories have been gained with
biomass power proposals in Springfield, Massachusetts, Valdosta,
Georgia, and Mecklenburg County, North Carolina--pushed back
temporarily, if not for good. At the same time, new proposals just keep
on coming--one seeking to convert three of Dominion's coal burning
utilities in Virginia to biomass, under the guise that it is
"economical" and "clean."
The economics of biomass can hardly be
considered favorable since taxpayers carry much of the burden of
costs--a recent analysis indicates cutting subsidies for biomass could
save up to $20 billion over the coming decade!
The recent U.S.
Senate vote to end some of the subsidies being poured into ethanol may
offer a ray of hope. If policymakers are finally willing to put an end
to the ethanol boondoggle, why not cut wasteful biomass subsidies as
|Biomass Buster of the Month
Paul Fouch -- Oregon
plant and its operations and diesel fuel trucks will degrade the
already bad air quality of nearby suburbs and all of our rural community
because of its upwind location, and its size," says Paul Fouch,
President of Save Our Rural Oregon, the leading opposition to a 42-megawatt biomass power incinerator proposal in Klamath Falls, Oregon.
fears the polluting facility will hurt the local economy by making it
harder to "attract new clean industry, retirees, and tourists" while
holding the community "in a cycle of poverty as slaves of the timber
Learn more about Save Our Rural Oregon's campaign and support its work here.
BCAP's Rocky Road
The Biomass Crop Assistance Program
(BCAP) provides funding for growing as well as the harvest, storage and
transportation of biomass feedstocks to facilities for burning. The
program, administered by the US Department of Agriculture, has had a rocky road.
Environmental groups challenged USDA for failing to undertake review of BCAP funding proposals as specified by the National Environmental Policy Act.
Funding was halted and then later reinstated. In June 2011 BCAP
funding was cut under a new US House agriculture appropriations bill.
on the same day, USDA approved a controversial BCAP proposal to plant
200,000 acres of a non-native, invasive grass, Miscanthus, across four
states. BCAP funding has mostly landed more profits into the hands of
big agribusiness and logging companies in addition to biomass power
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Clothes Dryer vs. Clothesline
About 5.8 percent of residential electricity use goes towards the clothes dryer, according to Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Information Administration
statistics. If all Americans would use the clothesline or wooden drying
racks, the savings would be enough to close several power plants [wood-based biomass power makes up 0.9% of 2010 U.S. electricity generation].
Project Laundry List provides a fairly sophisticated “Green Laundry Calculator,” which you can save on your computer as an Excel file.
typically costs 30 to 40 cents to dry a load of laundry in an electric
dryer and approximately 15 to 20 cents in a gas dryer. Over its expected
lifetime of 18 years, the average clothes dryer will cost you
approximately $1,530 to operate.