More Pollution Isn't a Climate Solution
(July 2014 - Vol. 5, issue 4)
EPA Should Follow the Science on Biomass
- by William H. Schlesinger, June 18, 2014, The Hill
In America’s Southeastern states, there’s a booming energy trend that’s as big a step backward as imaginable.
In fact, it stretches back to the time of cavemen. Power companies are
burning trees to produce energy, a deeply misguided practice that’s
razing precious forests, producing fuel dirtier than coal and boosting
carbon pollution right when we need to sharply curb this key contributor
to climate change.
Power plants here and abroad are ramping up use of this antiquated
energy source based on faulty claims that it’s renewable without
acknowledging its impacts on our resources and climate.
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is taking a close look at
burning biomass. It should — in keeping with the President Obama’s
comprehensive climate action plan — rein it in.
Last fall, I joined 40 U.S. scientists in sending a letter to the
Environmental Protection Agency urging the agency to follow the science
on biomass and draft strong standards curbing its climate emissions.
Today, 50 additional scientists have joined us in this call.
Here’s why: In search of alternatives to coal and other fossil fuels,
power companies have started to switch to burning biomass, plant
material ranging from wood to agricultural residues to energy
crops. Increasingly, they are producing electricity from wood
pellets manufactured from whole trees. This is putting our Southeastern
forests at grave risk.
Biomass has all too often been labeled “carbon neutral.” But it’s not.
Scientific advances in calculating emissions make clear that burning
whole trees for electricity creates more carbon pollution than coal.
Carbon pollution is what’s causing the changes we’re already seeing in
our climate through more extreme weather, storms and floods.
- by Josh Schlossberg
The Ten Commandments of Movement Solidarity
a decade of grassroots advocacy, my personal belief is that the
greatest obstacle to positive change in the world isn’t corporations,
the government, or the 1%, but lack of movement solidarity.
And no, I’m not pretending to be some modern day Moses bringing the
divine truths down from the mountain. I’m just someone who has
participated in the entire spectrum of the environmental movement — from
mainstream to “radical,” on both coasts — who has witnessed a lot of
unnecessary failures over the years, in large part because people can’t
figure out how to work together.
my work these days focuses on the health and environmental impacts of
dirty energy — nuclear, fossil fuels, and biomass/trash
incineration — most of the specific examples I give in this article will
come from that realm. However, chances are the “Ten Commandments of
Solidarity” can also apply to your movement, whatever it is…unless it’s
evil. In which case, it won’t, so don’t bother.
Now, I’ll admit that limiting this list to just ten points is arbitrary,
so if you’ve got other “commandments,” please post them in the
comments, where I’ll ignore them…Just kidding, I’ll read and carefully
consider them, because that’s what solidarity looks like.
Activists Shut Down Biomass Incinerator in Eugene, OR
- by Cascadia Forest Defenders, July 7, 2014, ForestDefenseNow.com
of activists with Cascadia Forest Defenders and Earth First! converged
on the Seneca Jones biomass plant this morning to protest the company’s
privatization of public lands in the Elliott State Forest and ongoing
pollution in West Eugene.
Currently several people have locked themselves to equipment at the
plant, effectively blocking the “truck dump” where biomass is loaded
into the incinerator. A banner has been dropped off of a tower reading:
“Seneca Jones: Privatizing the coast range, polluting West Eugene.”
Forest Defender Richard Haley commented, “However Kathy Jones paints
it, her company is a bad neighbor everywhere it operates. Here in
Eugene, Seneca pollutes. In the Elliott, Seneca clearcuts and puts up
‘no trespassing’ signs in pristine, never before logged forest. East
Hakki is no longer a place where locals can go hunt, fish, hike, camp or
watch birds. Now it is corporate property.”
More Logging and Biomass Isn't a Jobs Solution
- by Rob Handy, July 6, 2014, Register Guard
During my tenure as a Lane County
commissioner, I watched Lane County’s timber harvest rise from 337
million board feet in 2009 to 590 million board feet in 2012, reported
concisely by the state Department of Forestry. In spite of this huge
surge, a 75 percent increase, I never witnessed the often-predicted
surge in jobs or revenues.
What I did witness was a distinct increase in clear-cutting, especially
in the forests closest to Eugene. That was accompanied by rural
residents in Triangle Lake being contaminated from the aerial spraying
of forest poisons and by the degrading of such public waters as Quartz
Creek, a vital McKenzie River tributary.
I also noticed how increased burning of logging slash made the valley
murky with smoke. Ironically, the Seneca biomass energy facility I
contested, instead of reducing slash burning, has degraded our air
quality further by increasing its allowable pollution!