Massachusetts Poised to Slash Biomass Power Subsidies
- by Meg Sheehan
In the coming weeks, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER)
is scheduled to issue Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) regulations
that will require energy producers seeking "renewable energy credits" to
meet strict standards: (1) approximately 40% efficiency (biomass power
is about 25% efficient and still gets "green" energy credits) (2) proof
that their greenhouse gas emissions are lower than fossil fuel
combustion (3) and compliance with forest harvesting limits.
The Fall 2010 DOER
RPS proposed regulations for biomass energy were met with a fierce
backlash from over fourteen state and national public health and
environmental groups. These groups are demanding that the state follow
the science it commissioned in the "Manomet" Study, saying that the
weakened proposed regulations were the result of demands of biomass
biomass power industry is clearly terrified that Massachusetts will
start a trend of slashing ratepayer subsidies for biomass energy under
the RPS. When Covanta Energy went across the border to Albany,
NY, in mid-November to try to get trash burning added to the list of
"renewable energy" sources eligible for public subsidies, they faced a
similar backlash. Armed with its new reports the well-organized people's
anti-incinerator coalition fired back saying that incineration is the
most expensive form of energy production per unit of electricity
City Defends Biomass Moratorium in Vancouver, WA
- by Josh Schlossberg
(source: Stephanie Rice, The Columbian, Oct. 31, 2011)
a biomass power developer based in France, filed a lawsuit against the
City of Vancouver, WA following an Oct. 11 City Council decision to
enact a six-month moratorium on downtown development.
lawsuit is at best premature because the city council is required by
law to hold a public hearing on the moratorium which has not yet
happened," said Vancouver City attorney Ted Gathe. "We intend to
vigorously defend the city against these claims."
Vancouver residents protesting biomass power
(Photo: Gerald Bartlett, The Columbian, Nov. 2, 2011)
In a memo to Schneider Electric,
Clark County Administrator Bill Baron wrote, "because of the
uncertainty surrounding these issues and the multiplicity of legal
options that currently exist, Clark County would like to suggest a
'pause' in development activity."
of the public have complained to the City and County regarding the
health impacts from air pollution to be emitted from the proposed
incinerator. The public hearing on the moratorium is scheduled for Dec.
Two Biomass Proposals Axed in Indiana
- by Josh Schlossberg
(source: Grace Schneider, The Courier-Journal, Oct. 12, 2011)
Liberty Green Renewables
has withdrawn its two 32-megawatt biomass power incinerator proposals
for Milltown and Scottsburg, Indiana. The corporation asked the Indiana
Department of Environmental Management to revoke air emission permits
previously issued by the state.
"What the citizens did was remarkable because the little guy was up against big energy and big banks," said Cara Beth Jones of Concerned Citizens of Crawford County,
part of the local grassroots biomass opposition. Citizen resistance
included filling public meetings, educating elected officials, airing
television ads, and filing legal appeals.
American Academy of Family Physicians Opposes Biomass Burning
Below are excerpts from an April 23, 2010 letter from Douglas Henley, M.D., vice president and CEO of the American Academy of Family Physicians
(representing over 94,700 family physicians and medical students) to
the North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources
regarding biomass proposals.
believe that the proposed biomass burning facilities pose a serious
risk to the health of patients. The burning of poultry litter and wood
wastes leads to increased risk of premature death and serious chronic
plants additionally will have a negative impact on the health of our
patients through emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides, arsenic,
mercury and dioxins, all of which link directly to respiratory, brain,
kidney, heart and thyroid diseases; cancer; diabetes mellitus;
neurotoxicity; developmental delays in children and disruption in fetal
emissions will have an adverse affect on the health of the most
vulnerable North Carolinians: developing fetuses, newborns, children,
those with chronic illness and the elderly.
result of bringing these biomass facilities online will be increased
disability and disease, which will lead to increased medical costs.
Study: Logging Forests for Bioenergy Worsens Climate Change
- by Josh Schlossberg
Oct. 24, 2011: A study from Oregon State University (OSU) demonstrates that logging forests for bioenergy would increase carbon dioxide emissions by 14 to 17%.
"Regional Carbon Dioxide Implications of Forest Bioenergy Production,"
by lead author Tara Hudiburg, is yet another peer reviewed study
debunking the carbon neutrality myth of bioenergy, still being
perpetuated by the biomass industry and government agencies.
our ultimate goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, producing
bioenergy from forests will be counterproductive," said study co-author
and OSU professor Beverly Law.
Greenpeace Trashes Biomass
- by Josh Schlossberg
Nov. 2, 2011: Greenpeace Canada released a report condemning burning Canada's forests for biomass electricity and biofuels. The report, "Fueling a Biomess: Why Burning Trees for Energy Will Harm People, the Climate, and Forests,"
demonstrates how forest bioenergy is a step in the wrong direction for
sound economic and environmental energy policy and "cannot and should
not replace fossil fuels on a large-scale."
report debunks the "the illusion of carbon-neutrality," cites air
pollution concerns, and concludes that "electricity production from
forest biomass is inefficient, while transforming trees into biofuels
for transportation will mean impacting vast areas of forests."
calls for the Canadian government to "suspend the approval of new
bioenergy proposals and conduct a review of existing projects, their
wood allocations, and their impacts on communities, climate and
demands include banning the logging and burning of whole trees for
biomass energy: "whether commercial, non-commercial, burned or diseased,
standing trees should not be used for energy."
|Please Donate to the National Anti-Biomass Campaign
The Anti-Biomass Incineration Campaign
works on the national, regional, and community levels to oppose
industrial biomass energy incineration by influencing legislative
policy, through public and media education and outreach, and by
providing networking, resources and organizing support to communities
across the U.S.
Campaign is made up of representatives of grassroots groups and
nonprofit organizations across 32 states, operating under the banner of Energy Justice Network,
based in Washington, DC. The Campaign has seen many successes over the
past few years including the cancellation of dozens of biomass power
proposals, extensive public education campaigns, media exposure on the
negative impacts of biomass incineration, and directly influencing the
outcome of elections.
you support the Campaign’s one-of-a-kind, powerful grassroots advocacy
to protect public health, climate, forests, watersheds, and ensure a
transition to genuinely clean, community-scale energy, please make a donation—from $10 to $100—so this important work can continue.
CLICK HERE to make a safe and secure, tax deductible online donation to the Campaign through PayPal.
|From the Editor
People's Movement vs. Biomass Incineration
- by Meg Sheehan, Managing Editor
the first Occupy protests got underway in September, Massachusetts
anti-biomass activists descended on the State House in Boston with
speeches, banners, and petitions demanding that Gov. Deval Patrick
reject industry pleas for ratepayer subsidies for burning trees while
calling it "clean energy." This People's movement made it clear to
politicians that we won't tolerate backsliding on commitments to put
strict limits on the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard regulations
for biomass energy.
we wait for the regulations to be issued, it's clear that a new day has
dawned and it won't be business as usual for corporate "persons" and
their political cronies. The XL tar sands pipeline is stalled, a
fracking moratorium remains in place in the Delaware River Basin, and at
least 24 biomass incinerators have been stalled or withdrawn across the
U.S. These are People's victories, accomplished with everyday people
power against corporations armed with bucket-loads of money to lobby,
bribe, cajole, and threaten public officials (we've seen it all).
Read about citizen victories and follow THE BIOMASS MONITOR on Twitter and Facebook
as we connect, communicate, and celebrate the fight against
destructive energy policies that rip off American taxpayers and
|Biomass Buster of the Month
Cara Beth Jones - Indiana
"I first thought this was a fight about saving our precious clean drinking water, but it became so much more," says Cara Beth Jones, co-chair of Concerned Citizens of Crawford County, a major push behind the successful campaign to stop Liberty Green Renewables from building two biomass power proposals in Indiana.
up on a sixth generation family farm in rural Indiana, Cara Beth isn't
sure how she got labeled an "activist," thinking herself more of a
"protector." "But I'll wear the title proudly," she adds.
"Clean air, our property and land and now the crops and food," says Cara Beth, "are these not things worth protecting?"
|Eye on D.C.
Letter to Super Committee: Cut Biomass Subsidies
On November 16, a letter signed by representatives of 46 organizations in 22 states was hand-delivered to members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction,
or "Super Committee," urging them to remove over a billion dollars of
annual federal spending to private corporations and developers burning
"biomass" for electricity and constructing biomass power facilities.
letter cites $1,117,000,000 in federal subsidies diverted to the
biomass power industry in 2010 alone and over $102,000,000 of ARRA
stimulus funding spent on the construction of 9 biomass power
facilities, as of May 2011.
letter refers to cutting biomass power subsidies as the "low hanging
fruit" for the Super Committee, questioning the justice of precious
taxpayer dollars being taken from the wallets of struggling Americans to
line the pockets of corporate profiteers developing a costly,
polluting, and controversial energy source, poorly disguised as "clean"
Solar Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels by 2026
- by Christopher Mims, Grist
Nov. 3, 2011:
Solar power will be cheaper than fossil fuels at some point between the
end of this decade and 2026, said U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu
at the Washington Post's Smart Energy conference this morning.
date at which solar power reaches "grid parity" with fossil fuels
without subsidy has been the subject of heated debate for decades.
to say, solar at the same price as fossil fuels has the potential to
completely transform the global energy market by making the switch to
solar a no-brainer. You might even call it the Holy Grail of renewable