The Ecological Importance of California’s Rim Fire [The Biomass Monitor]

The Ecological Importance of California’s Rim Fire 

- by Chad Hanson, John Muir Project 

Photo: Doug Bevington

Since the Rim fire began in the central Sierra Nevada on August 17, there has been a steady stream of fearful, hyperbolic, and misinformed reporting in much of the media. The fire, which is currently 188,000 acres in size and covers portions of the Stanislaus National Forest and the northwestern corner of Yosemite National Park, has been consistently described as “catastrophic”, “destructive”, and “devastating.” One story featured a quote from a local man who said he expected “nothing to be left”. However, if we can, for a moment, set aside the fear, the panic, and the decades of misunderstanding about wildland fires in our forests, it turns out that the facts differ dramatically from the popular misconceptions. The Rim fire is a good thing for the health of the forest ecosystem. It is not devastation, or loss. It is ecological restoration.

Health Component Missing from Biomass Air Quality Study [The Biomass Monitor]

Health Component Missing from Biomass Air Quality Study

- by Diana Somerville

We will soon be making history here on the Olympic Peninsula, or becoming guinea pigs. Thanks to public pressure and legislative support, a two-year study of a unique aspect of our air quality may begin next month. The Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA), working with University of Washington atmospheric scientists, will look at changes downwind from biomass cogeneration plants adjacent to the existing paper mills in Port Angeles and Port Townsend. These plants will generate electricity by burning smaller trees and forestry waste with construction and demolition debris often added to the mix.

USDA to Expand Taxpayer Handouts to Biomass Industry

USDA Announces Initiative to Expand U.S. Wood-to-Energy Efforts

- by Sue Retka Schill, September 13, 2013. Source: Biomass Magazine 

The USDA announced a partnership agreement to expand wood energy use, which will help improve the safety and health of U.S. forests. The new partnerships include USDA, the Alliance for Green Heat, the Biomass Power Association, the Biomass Thermal Energy Council and the Pellet Fuels Institute. Ag secretary Tom Vilsack also announced more than $1.1 million in grants to five organizations to form state-wide teams that will stimulate development of wood energy projects in Idaho, California, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Alaska.

"Today's announcements will help us find innovative ways to use leftover wood to create renewable energy and support good jobs in rural America," Vilsack said. "Wood to Energy efforts are a part of our 'all of the above' energy strategy. Appropriately scaled wood energy facilities also support our efforts to remove hazardous fuels and reduce the risks of catastrophic wildfires."

Biomass Developer Eyes Louisiana for Three New Biofuel Refineries

Biomass Developer Eyes Louisiana for Three New Biofuel Refineries

August 27, 2013, Source: BioEnergy News

Cool Planet Energy Systems, a producer of petrol from non-food biomass, is to build three biomass-to-biofuel production plants in the US state of Louisiana for an investment of $168 million (€125.9 million).

Two sites – one in Alexandria and another in Natchitoches – have already been determined. The location for the third plant is still to be decided.

Cool Planet will break ground on the Port of Alexandria project at the beginning of 2014 before operations begin at the end of the year. Construction on the second biorefinery at the Port of Natchitoches is slated to begin by mid-2015, with a completion date of 2016. The third plant will enter service towards the end of 2016.

Waste-to-Energy Incinerator License Revoked in Scotland

Waste-to-Energy Incinerator License Revoked in Scotland 

- August 27, 2013. Source: BBC News

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) is revoking the operating licence of an energy-from-waste plant on the outskirts of Dumfries.

The notice was issued to Scotgen (Dumfries) Ltd on Friday and comes into effect on 23 September.

The £20m plant was the site of a major blaze last month tackled by more than 30 firefighters.

Biomass Health Care Costs

Biomass Health Care Costs 
 
- by Dick Stokes, August 16, 2013. Source: Gainesville Sun
 
Physicians warned Gainesville officials for years about the increased health risks and health-care costs from biomass-burning emissions.
 
There's nothing green, clean or healthy about hauling over 22 counties' worth of wood on diesel-belching trucks every day to burn in our backyard.
 
Dioxins, fine particles, volatile organic compounds and others spewing from the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center smokestack will be odorless and invisible. People won't notice they're being damaged until increased rates of asthma, heart disease, stroke and cancer are apparent.

How Europe can Help Obama Achieve U.S. Climate Targets

How Europe can Help Obama Achieve U.S. Climate Targets

- by Glenn Hurowitz, June 28, 2013. Source: Grist

As the global leader of climate action, European governments want to know how President Obama’s major climate speech affects Europe – and particularly whether the actions he outlined can allow the United States to reach its commitment to reduce emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels (or even exceed that level).

The big picture: Obama’s speech amounted to the first time that President Obama had given voice to the environmental movement’s core narrative at length. Suddenly, he wasn’t just talking about energy security and the economy and “all of the above” – he was talking about protecting the future of life on the planet against very real threat of climate change.  Watching the speech, I felt like I’d just woken up from 12 years of Bush-Cheney, and yesterday was the first day of the Obama administration.

E.U. Agroenergy Policy: A Foreseeable Disaster [The Biomass Monitor]

E.U. Agroenergy Policy: A Foreseeable Disaster

- by Josh Schlossberg, The Biomass Monitor

In a misguided attempt to allegedly tackle runaway climate change, the European Union (E.U.) is implementing policy that would increase carbon dioxide emissions, displace native peoples, threaten public health, and degrade forests and watersheds.

A new report, A Foreseeable Disaster: The European Union’s agroenergy policies and the global land and water grab, demonstrates that schemes to convert plants and trees into electricity, liquid fuels, and heat, a.k.a. agroenergy or agromass, will do more harm than good.

The report, written by Helena Paul and published in July 2013 by Transnational Institute, Centre for Research and Documentation Chile-Latin America (FDCL), and Econexus for Hands off the Land Alliance, challenges an expansion of European agroenergy by “critically analysing the origins, claims, and effects of the European Union’s (EU) transition to a new bioeconomy.”

Agromass, a subset of biomass, consists of “so-called wastes and residues from agriculture and forestry (for example, waste products from oil palm plantations: oil palm shells, empty fruit bunches, palm fronds, trunks, palm kernel shells and mesocarp fibres).” Major components of agromass are wood chips and pellets—which utilize whole trees, treetops and limbs—grasses, agricultural crops and agricultural residues. Agromass can also include municipal solid waste and sewage.

Tracking Biomass Air Pollution on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula [The Biomass Monitor]

Tracking Biomass Air Pollution on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula

- by Josh Schlossberg, The Biomass Monitor

Government agencies and policymakers have long turned a deaf ear to concerns with human health threats from biomass incineration. A new experimental study underway on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula may ultimately compel elected officials to act to protect public health from biomass incineration, while serving as a model for communities around the nation.

The Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA) budgeted over half a million dollars to conduct this new experimental study “focusing on the impacts of biomass fueled cogeneration facilities on air quality downwind,” with additional monitoring of the air quality near two proposed biomass incinerators, a 20-megawatt facility at Nippon Industries in Port Angeles and a 24-megawatt facility at Port Townsend Paper Company in Port Townsend.

How to Stop a Biomass Incinerator [The Biomass Monitor]

How to Stop a Biomass Incinerator

- by People for Clean Mountains

On July 22, 2013 the Transylvania County, North Carolina Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to enact a one year moratorium on the development and permitting of any biomass facility producing any output. This was the culmination of four months of effort by the citizens and officials of our community.

What was originally viewed as a NIMBY response to a proposal to bring “cutting edge” technology into our county, evolved past the notion of “Not In Anyone’s Back Yard” to a viewpoint of NOPE, Not on Planet Earth. Biomass incineration is a global issue, spewing tons of toxic chemicals and particulates into the atmosphere, destroying our environment through both pollution and choices of feedstock, from the introduction of invasive species of grass to feed the burners, to GMO trees and the decimation of our precious forests, up to and including the lunacy of burning garbage. 

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