Behind the Colorado Fracking Betrayal

- by Joel Dyer, August 7, 2014, Boulder Weekly
 
So what went wrong with ballot measures 88 and 89? How could these popular citizen’s initiatives written to give local communities more control over drilling and fracking in their neighborhoods have failed to get on the ballot?
 
Well, the first mistake Colorado citizens made was they trusted a politician, Congressman Jared Polis, to help them with their cause. Polis formed a green-sounding organization, which wrote ballot initiatives 88 and 89 and paid the signature gatherers for their amazing efforts, which culminated in more than 260,000 signatures being gathered, more than enough to put both measures before the voters in November.
 
In fact, Polis was so effective in his efforts that his organization sucked up all the anti-fracking energy in the state, causing other local-control ballot measures which were written and put forward by actual grassroots activists to be withdrawn. They couldn’t compete with Polis’ money or his organization. And why should they compete, they all wanted the same thing, right?
 
And so began the Polis show. And what a show it turned out to be.

Forest Thinning Will Increase Wildfire Risk

- by Charles Thomas, The Oregonian
 
As fires again rage across the West, senators from John McCain, R-Ariz., to Ron Wyden, D-Ore., echo the refrain "thin the forests" to prevent wildfires. Unfortunately, most of the advocated thinning will actually stoke the wildfires of the future rather than lessen their occurrence and impacts.
 
Thinning prescriptions proposed in Wyden's O&C legislation, designed by eminent foresters Jerry Franklin and Norm Johnson, will stimulate hotter, faster-growing wildfires that are more hazardous to fight. These prescriptions drastically thin forest canopies through timber sales designed primarily to generate timber volume, often leaving the slash and smaller shrubs and trees for non-commercial fire hazard reduction projects that are usually underfunded, unable to match the pace of canopy thinning projects and clear-cuts across the landscape.
 
Thinning forest canopies opens the stands to more sunlight, which encourages growth of fine fuels, including shrubs, small trees and grasses. Penetration of sunlight and dry summer winds effectively increases the active fire season by drying this new growth and leftover logging slash much faster than in adjacent unlogged forest stands, where greater canopy closure with tall shade columns retains moisture in soils and vegetation.
 
Active fire season begins weeks earlier in thinned forests and lasts weeks later, drastically increasing the time span during which dry forest conditions contribute to rapid fire spread. These dry, thinned forests often burn hotter and more erratically than unthinned stands, even causing retreat of firefighters when conditions become too dangerous to maintain fire lines.

2014: The Year of the Smokestack Smackdown [Energy Justice Now, August 2014]

Prepare yourself for the August issue of Energy Justice Network's new publication, Energy Justice Now!

- "2014 a Banner Year for Victories"

- "Derailing NYC Trash Train in Chester, PA"

- "Vermont Yankee: Out of the Fission and Into the Fire?"

...and more!!!

Please share the August 2014 issue of Energy Justice Now with your friends, colleagues, neighbors, media, and elected officials!

Subscribe to monthly email issues of Energy Justice Now here.

2014 a Banner Year for Victories

Bristol, PA residents protest hazardous waste incinerator This is the year for victories against biomass and waste incinerators. We've tracked 45 victories by those in our network since 2010, but this year is something special. It's only been seven months and we've already seen seven victories, plus a victory against a proposed gas-fired power plant and two state-level policy victories. We're proud to have contributed in small (and sometimes not so small) ways to the great grassroots work that resulted in each. So far this year: Later this year, we hope and expect to see victories in other communities we've been supporting, including against incinerators planned in Allentown, PA, Arecibo, Puerto Rico, Baltimore, MD, Crawford County, PA, Frederick, MD, and Logansport, IN. We also are hopeful to see victories against a New York City trash-by-train plan to feed the nation's largest incinerator, in Chester, PA, and a proposed landfill in Waller County, TX.

DC Passes Styrofoam Ban and must Plan for Zero Waste!

Since January, we've been working to help get two bills passed in DC City Council, both of which passed unanimously on July 14th, 2014!  Several aspects of the bills were made stronger through our efforts.

The most exciting parts of these bills include:

  • banning most uses of Styrofoam in food service in DC
  • requiring disposable food service ware to be compostable or recyclable
  • transportation benefits for those working for larger employers, supporting mass transit passes, bicycling and carpooling
  • requiring the city to come up with a zero waste plan, ensuring that at least 80% of our waste is diverted from incinerators and landfills (we're currently at a miserable 16%)
  • requires better recycling education and labeling of bins
  • starts curbside composting collection
  • mandates electronic waste recycling
  • requires reporting of where our waste and recycling actually goes if collected by private haulers
In more detail...

Updated Resources on Trash Incineration

Vermont Yankee: Out of the Fission and Into the Fire?

- by Ann Darling, The Safe and Green Campaign

The Vermont Yankee nuclear power station in southeastern Vermont will close in December of this year after operating for over 40 years. The owner, Entergy Nuclear, is based in New Orleans and is the second largest nuclear power company in the U.S.

As a member of the Safe and Green Campaign, which is made up of activists who live close to the nuke and whose homeland is the most in harm’s way, I have witnessed some pretty dirty tactics to keep this particular form of dirty energy going. The litany of problems and deceit seemed never to end – a transformer fire, rotted cooling towers flooding the site with water, tritium leaks, lies under oath, multiple lawsuits, regulatory complicity and deafness, the silencing of the Vermont legislature, state inaction on the heating of the Connecticut River, bargaining in back rooms with the Governor to make a deal with an acknowledged devil (Entergy), the challenge to democracy embodied in federal law that says only “experts” can understand or address nuclear safety issues. And that’s not all, by far.

But now Vermont Yankee is closing. Music to my ears? Well, for a few moments we celebrated. We celebrated our role in supporting the State of Vermont to enact legislation to take some control back for the state, and in the ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit between Entergy and Vermont. We celebrated the organizing of many meaningful and fun actions that mobilized thousands. We celebrated not having to go to any more Nuclear Regulatory Commission hearings that just left us angry and incredulous (I have to admit I enjoyed scolding the young NRC staffer about not cleaning up after himself and leaving all the radioactive waste in an incredibly vulnerable pool of water.)

Yankee said it closed because it was no longer profitable to operate due to the cheap cost of natural gas. OK, I can accept that. And I also know that the millions of dollars Entergy had to spend on lawsuits and security, and the bad press they got, also played an important role that we are very proud of.

But now back to reality. Yankee has been a large employer in our rural area, and it has paid very high salaries and supported lots of local non-profits. Its closing will have a major impact on a local economy that is already weak. Entergy has promised $10 million over five years for economic development, and there are a lot of competing ideas for that money. The Safe and Green Campaign, among others, will be here to watchdog the decommissioning process, and two of our members have been nominated to a state panel that will be closely involved in overseeing that.

People are scared. Fear can make it hard to think through things well. They are scared about what’s going to happen with property values and small businesses already hanging on by a very thin thread. They have a fundamental disquiet with developing many small power generating facilities that use solar and wind. They believe they need big facilities to generate enough power. And they don’t seem to really take conservation and efficiency seriously.

Now there’s a proposal to use the VY site for biomass with a tie in to a natural gas pipeline that’s trying to go through just south in Massachusetts. Lots of people are jumping at this like it’s actually the answer to everything. (Remember what I said about what being scared does to us?) After all, there are heavy duty transmission lines there, a railroad running right by the front gates, a well-established lumber industry, a river, an interstate. For four decades we’ve been living with the insanity of boiling water with radioactivity to generate electricity. We don’t think replacing that by burning biomass and emitting particulates and greenhouse gases, pressuring our beautiful forests, and burning more fracked gas makes any more sense than nuclear. As my friend Leslie said, “Bye-bye locally grown, truly green energy development. Hello, huge facility owned by yet another conglomerate of corporate investors.”

The Safe and Green Campaign has always had to emphasize the “safe” part of our work because we have been living under the pall of catastrophe for so long. But our banner doesn’t have a “No Nukes” symbol on it. It has an iconic picture of the sun’s glorious rays, and we need to shift our balance more and more to the “green” part of our work. Now we need to educate ourselves even more about all the ways to produce sustainable energy, and tap into our allies who helped create Vermont’s progressive plan for developing renewable energy. We need to be able to make sense to the people who are scared, with good reason, about our communities’ survival. We have been reaching out to the local 350.org group and others, and that’s good. We need to keep reaching out and take it as far up and across the power “food chain” as we can. This isn’t a “one site at a time” issue. It’s a national and international travesty that will send us to climate catastrophe if we don’t all work together.

Biomass Rejected in Favor of Solar in Springfield, VT

-  by Susan Smallheer, July 17, 2014, Rutland Herald

North Springfield, Vt. — Out with biomass, in with solar panels.

Winstanley Enterprises announced Wednesday that it was seeking state approval to build five, 500-kilowatt solar arrays in the North Springfield Industrial Park.

Some of the land that will be used was earlier proposed to be the site of the ill-fated North Springfield Sustainable Energy Project, which was rejected by state regulators earlier this year. The biomass plant would have burned tons of woodchips a year to produce 35 megawatts of electricity.

The developers of the project could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

But according to a news release sent out earlier in the day, it is a joint project of Winstanley Enteprises LLC, of Concord, Mass., Green Lantern Development LLC, of Waterbury and Powersmith Farm Inc., of Guilford.

But according to the three groups’ news release, the five arrays would total 2.5 megawatts of electricity, and represent approximately $8 million in capital investment.

By comparison, the biomass plant was estimated to cost upward of $150 million.

July issue of The Biomass Monitor: More Pollution Isn't a Climate Solution

Take a peek at the July 2014 issue of The Biomass Monitor, the nation's leading publication tracking the health and environmental impacts of "biomass" energy.

Inside this issue:

-"EPA Should Follow the Science on Biomass"

-"The Ten Commandments of Movement Solidarity"

-"Activists Shut Down Biomass Incinerator in Oregon"

...and more!

Please share the July 2014 issue of The Biomass Monitor with your friends, colleagues, neighbors, media, and elected officials!

Subscribe to monthly email issues of The Biomass Monitor here. 

More Logging and Biomass Burning Won’t Solve Job Woes

-  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!

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