One Florida Biomass Proposal Down, One to Go
- by Josh Schlossberg
Nov. 30, 2011: A 55-megawatt biomass power proposal for Port St. Joe, FL has been withdrawn by the developer Rentech, as a civil rights complaint was filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) charging the Florida Department of Environmental Protection with environmental racism in granting the facility its air permit in July 2011.
The complaint states that the "adverse impacts" of air pollution from the proposed Northwest Florida Renewable Energy Center
"will fall disparately upon members of the African-American race."
Populations within 2 km of the proposal are 73% African American,
compared to 18.7% in Gulf County and 16% in the State of Florida.
On December 5, biomass opponents handing out literature, holding signs and talking to customers outside of the Gainesville Regional Utilities,
a public utility developing a 100-megawatt biomass power incinerator
for Gainesville, were forced to leave public property by Gainesville
to the Gainesville City Code, "acts authorized as an exercise of one's
constitutional right to picket or to legally protest" are protected.
NY Dumps Trash as Renewable Energy
- by Josh Schlossberg
Incineration opponents and public health advocates are celebrating waste-to-energy developer Covanta Energy Corporation's withdrawal of a petition to the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) to qualify trash incineration as renewable energy.
Over the summer, a grassroots citizen campaign organized by dozens of advocacy groups, including Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), resulted in thousands of comments to the PSC
to oppose the petition and ensure that trash incineration would not
provide clean energy subsidies that New York taxpayers expect to be
going to non-smokestack renewable energy projects, such as solar
diverse array of New York organizations has been actively organizing
against handouts to this industry...The victory of these organizations
should inspire people in other states and countries to keep polluters
out of programs meant for renewable energy," said a GAIA press release.
hopeful that this is the last attempt we'll see by a company trying to
masquerade garbage incineration as clean energy," said Michael Seilback,
vice president of public policy and communications at the American Lung Association in New York.
"Clean energy funding must be reserved to promote energy projects that
are truly clean and that will enhance the environment and help improve
the air we breathe."
Report: Incinerators Burden Taxpayers
Nov. 15, 2011: A report by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA)
finds that waste-to-energy incinerators are eligible for a range of
public funds intended for clean energy sources such as solar and wind
"Burning Public Money for Dirty Energy"
was released in response to a number of federal and state policy
debates about whether incinerators should qualify for renewable energy
credits and related subsidies. The report states that incinerators
undermine recycling and composting programs, and job growth in those
cities that have built incinerators, such as Harrisburg, PA, are going
broke because these facilities cost more to construct (per unit of
energy) than nuclear power, and cost ten times more to operate than coal
power plants per megawatt-hour.
Study: EPA Rules Save $82 Billion
- by Josh Schlossberg
Nov. 17, 2011: A new study from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Trust for America's Health (TFAH) has found that four rules recently proposed or finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would significantly reduce air pollution and health care costs related to pollution-caused illness.
The study, "Saving Lives and Reducing Health Care Costs: How Clean Air Rules Benefit the Nation," cites more than $82 billion in Medicare, Medicaid, and other health care savings for Americans through 2021.
lowering air pollution, we can spare millions of Americans from asthma
attacks and other respiratory problems, heart attacks and other
cardiovascular problems, and a host of other preventable conditions,"
said Jeff Levi, Executive Director of TFAH.
"This report offers more proof that clean air rules that protect people's health are a good investment for America," said EDF
policy specialist Kusai Merchant. "The Clean Air Act is designed to
save lives and promote public health by reducing dangerous air
pollution. Our analysis shows that we can save billions of dollars at
the same time, because we'll be reducing air pollution-related health
The four EPA
rules referred to include the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, the
Utility Mercury and Air Toxics Rule, the Industrial Boiler Rule, and the
Cement Kiln Rule.
Forest Die-off and Biomass in Texas
- by Josh Schlossberg
(source: Jim Forsyth, Reuters, Dec. 20, 2011)
Over half a billion trees have died in Texas due to drought over the past year, according to the Texas Forest Service. "In 2011, Texas experienced an exceptional drought, prolonged high winds, and record-setting temperatures," said Forest Service Sustainable Forestry chief Burl Carraway.
The Piney Woods in east Texas experienced some of the greatest tree die-off. American Renewables' 100-megawatt Nacogdoches biomass power incinerator is under construction in Sacul, Texas, located in the Piney Woods region.
biomass industry has been working for years to increase public lands
logging across the West to fuel an expansion of biomass power
Emerald Ash Borer and Biomass
- by Josh Schlossberg
emerald ash borer (EAB) continues to spread across the eastern U.S.,
threatening the future of the tree species, with experts fearing the ash
could go the way of the elm over the coming decades. While federal and
state agencies and environmental groups have launched education
campaigns discouraging the transportation of firewood, what about the
spread of the EAB in wood chips bound for biomass energy facilities?
In October 2004, The Detroit News reported an outbreak of the EAB surrounding a biomass power facility in Flint, Michigan. In 2005's "The Survival of EAB in Wood Chips," Dr. David L. Roberts of Michigan State University Extension wrote, "this research suggested that the EAB had been transported in ash wood and/or ash chips."
New York State, wood chips can be transported out of EAB-infested
quarantined areas from late fall to early spring, outside of the "flight
season" for the winged invasive pest. These wood chips must be
accompanied by a "compliance agreement" to burn, treat, or dispose of
the chips in a timely manner, according to Sloane Crawford of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
one-half to two-thirds of the wood fueling Burlington, Vermont's McNeil
biomass power incinerator comes from New York. "No facilities in
Vermont have a compliance agreement" for accepting wood chips from
quarantined areas, said Barbara Burns, of the Vermont Department of Forests.
However, unlike Vermont, New York does not map biomass logging sites
and would not share the location of any of McNeil's sites. McNeil
transports wood from a 100-mile radius.
|Please Donate to the National Anti-Biomass Campaign
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industrial biomass energy incineration by influencing legislative
policy, through public and media education and outreach, and by
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Campaign is made up of representatives of grassroots groups and
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|From the Editor
- by Rachel Smolker, Managing Editor
This month saw the passage of another round of climate negotiations, in Durban South Africa. Activists from Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) and Biofuelwatch
were present there, with a delegation of wastepickers, working to make
their message heard: recycling is a real solution, burning is not, the
"clean development mechanism" should not fund trash incineration.
seems simple common sense that burning is no way to cool a heating
planet, yet it is incredibly difficult to get that message across,
especially from the "top down." More tangible successes come from the
bottom up. This past month saw citizens in New York State succeed in
pushing back a proposed trash incinerator and the proposed biomass
incinerator in Port Saint Joe, Florida, was withdrawn.
fighting these battles one by one is a drain on community resources and
energies. We need to change the policies at national and international
levels that are supporting ever more biomass incinerator proposals
around the country and the world. In the coming year we need to keep
building pressure, from the top down, from the bottom up, and in fact
from every conceivable angle.
|Biomass Buster of the Month
Harold Saive - Florida
argument against a proposed 100-MW biomass incinerator for Gainesville,
FL is mainly fiscal, explaining how businesses will avoid the city
because "they will be burdened with higher than average electric rates
to help pay off a $3 to $4 billion dollar biomass electric bill."
Harold and other Gainesville residents have been leafleting in front of the Gainesville Public Utility,
informing ratepayers of the economic consequences of a new incinerator.
Saive also supports candidates for the City Commission who aim to halt
construction with a Power Purchase Agreement contract buy-out.
reminds us that biomass doesn't only threaten health and the
environment, but also the economic well-being of taxpayers and
|Eye on D.C.
Biomass "Stimulus" Subsidies Uncertain
- by Cassandra Zampini
Leaving the future of biomass in flux, Congress failed to extend Section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA),
an investment credit program for renewable energy companies. Section
1603 is a three-year program that helped reimburse companies like wind,
solar, and geothermal, but biomass, posing as a renewable energy, would
also benefit from the extension.
"The 1603 program has helped solidify biomass industry growth," according to president and CEO of the Biomass Power Association (BPA), Biomass Magazine reported. The BPA
joined with the 1603 Coalition last November to sign a letter to
Congress urging the extension of the energy tax incentive that would pay
up to 30 percent the cost of construction in lieu of tax credits.
energy companies hoped Section 1603 would be attached to a payroll bill
passed on Dec. 31, 2011, but as Congress continues to delay, it is more
likely to show up in a larger tax bill in early 2012.
Eliminating "Phantom Load"
- by Nora Dunn
There are now products on the market to help reduce excessive power consumption. One of them is called the Green Switch.
Their product was originally designed for the hotel/hospitality
industry, which saw an energy cost savings of 25-45% as a result. So the
next logical market became the consumer one.
It involves a relatively simple installation of the Green Switch
in place of one of your outlets. It then sends a wireless signal to
other outlets, light switches, and thermostats in your home to turn the
power off at the source when activated.
Enviroplug is a UK-based company that also has a line of products similar to the Green Switch, which help eliminate phantom power drains.