Save America's Forests and Wild Lands from Anti-Environmental Congress

save america's forestsThe logging, grazing, mining and other extractive industries are mounting an intense attack on our nation's public lands. 
 
The December 2014 lame duck session of Congress saw an ugly brew of anti-conservation initiatives removing legal conservation protection from millions of acres of public lands. But this was just the tip of the oncoming extractive industries iceberg.
 
With Republican capture of the Senate in the 2014 election, the goal of the ultra right wing to privatize public lands may soon become reality. Representative Peter DeFazio’s legislation to virtually privatize and allow clearcutting on one million acres of federal land in Oregon could pass into law in the new Congress and become a model for the rest of our public lands. This anti-conservation juggernaut must be stopped. The landmark environmental and conservation laws that for a half century gave some protection to our public lands are eroding, and will disappear like the glaciers in Glacier National Park or the polar ice caps unless we, the hardcore grassroots, unite and fight back in a coordinated national campaign. 

Radioactive Spikes from Nuclear Plants a Likely Cause of Childhood Leukemia

- by Dr. Ian Fairlie, Ecologist

safe nuclear power?On 23rd August, The Ecologist published very clear evidence of increased cancers among children living near nuclear power stations around the world, including the UK.

The story sparked much interest on social media sites, and perhaps more importantly, the article's scientific basis (published in the academic peer-reviewed scientific journal the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity) was downloaded over 500 times by scientists.

Given this level of interest and the fact that the UK government is still pressing ahead with its bizarre plans for more nuclear stations, we return to this matter - and examine in more detail an important aspect which has hitherto received little attention: massive spikes in radioactive emissions from nuclear reactors.

$629 Million in Taxpayer Dollars for Bioenergy

- by Erin Voegele, March 19, 2015, Ethanol Producer Magazine

burning moneyOn March 12, the U.S. Energy Information Administration published a report on direct federal financial interventions and subsidies in energy for fiscal year (FY) 2103. The report, which responds to a request from Reps. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Power, is an update of two earlier EIA reports covering FY 2007 and FY 2010.

Overall, the report finds the total value of direct financial interventions and subsidies in the energy markets decreased by nearly 25 percent between FY 2010 and FY 2013, declining from $38 billion to $29.3 billion. In FY 2010, $11.69 billion in subsidies were electricity related, with $10.7 billion in subsidies for fuels used outside the electricity sector and $15.57 billion in subsidies for conservation, end uses, and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. In FY 2013, the breakdown included $16.11 billion in electricity-related subsidies, with $5.21 billion in subsidies for fuels used outside the electricity sector and $7.94 billion in subsidies for conservation, end uses, and LIHEAP.

Montana Logging Collaborative Fails Restoration Goals

- by George Wuerthner, March 15, 2015, The Wildlife News

The Forest Service (FS), the timber industry and some environmental groups formed a collaborative groups several years ago known as the Southwest Crown of the Continent (SWCC). The goal ostensibly is to promote healthy ecosystems, but the real goal is to increase logging in the Seeley-Swan and Lincoln areas. The SWCC “restoration” objectives appear to be in direct conflict with sound science and well established principles.

The collaborative first misinterprets ecological parameters to create a problem that they can solve with logging. Then the logging creates extra problems like spread of weeds on logging roads, which in turn requires more management. It is a self-fulfilling management that damages our forest ecosystems, and wastes tax payer money to subsidize private timber interests.

Garden Variety Environmentalism: The Band-Aid Wing of the Green Growth Economy

- by Michael Donnelly, March 13, 2015, Counterpunch

It was 60+ degrees and sunny – had been for weeks – in western  Oregon, as I arrived in Eugene for the annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) at the University of Oregon Law School – the planet’s oldest such conference. The conference, attended by over 3000 attorneys, activists, wonks and government officials, is put on by law students at the U of O. Other students from other top environmental law schools (Lewis and Clark, Vermont Law …) also pitch in organizing and moderating panel discussions. The organizers did a remarkable job juggling speakers, attendees and all the little things necessary.

While suffering from a bigger than usual allergy attack brought on by many types of trees and flowering plants budding out at the same time; I, as usual, perused the conference brochure for panels and Keynote addresses that would take on the big eco-threats of the day.

Out of over 200 panel presentations and twelve Keynote speakers, there were  1) three panels on citizen  activism (two at the same time); 2) one panel on Consumption; 3) one panel on Population; 4) one on the “false solution” of “Green” Energy;…and NONE at all on Biomass/Biofuels! Not at all promising.

Planned La Pine, Oregon Biomass Incinerator Hinges on Market

- by Dylan J. Darling, March 17, 2015, Bend Bulletin

A wood-burning power plant remains a possibility for La Pine, with the city now taking the lead on the project from Deschutes County and the company behind it waiting for a change in the energy market.

“It’s just been on hold due to market conditions,” said Rob Broberg, president of Biogreen Sustainable Energy Co., based in Vancouver, Washington. “And we plan on holding out until we are able to market and sell power.”

The company must find an energy buyer to make the planned plant economically viable, said Rick Allen, La Pine city manager.

“They need to find a power company that wants to buy their power,” he said. “…That’s really the issue.”

The $75 million, 25-megawatt biomass plant would produce enough electricity to power about 19,000 homes, Broberg said. The plant would burn wood — limbs and other scrap left over after logging, debris from thinning projects and urban waste — to heat water, create steam and turn a turbine. Interested power companies would likely be in California, where the state requires an increasing percentage of its power to come from “greener” sources such as biomass, wind and solar.

Gypsum, CO Biomass Incinerator Still Off-Line After December Fire

- by Scott Miller, March 22, 2015, Post Independent

A plant that generates electricity by burning beetle-killed wood had only been operating for a few months when a December fire badly damaged the facility’s conveyor system. The plant has been closed since, and will probably remain closed until summer.

The plant, built by Provo, Utah-based Eagle Valley Clean Energy, used about $40 million in federal loan guarantees to finance the project. The idea was to use beetle-killed wood to generate electricity, since there’s a decades-long supply of dead trees in the forests around Gypsum. The plant was intended to generate about 11.5 megawatts of power per hour — 1.5 megawatts to power the plant and 10 megawatts to be sold to Holy Cross Energy. That’s enough for about 10,000 homes, backers say.

Some neighbors of the plant have worried about air, water and noise pollution. But an Environmental Protection Agency website lists only two minor water-quality violations — one each in 2012 and 2013 — and no enforcement actions against the plant.

State of Illinois Settles Ethanol Spill Fish Kill Case

- by Pam Eggemeier, March 5, 2015, Sauk Valley

Rock River Illinois ethanol fish killA settlement has been reached with a railroad company responsible for an ethanol spill that caused a significant fish kill in the Rock River nearly 6 years ago, Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office announced Thursday.

In June 2009, a Chicago, Central and Pacific Railroad train derailed in Rockford, killing one person. The explosion and resulting fire caused the release of up to 75,000 gallons of an ethanol and gasoline mixture into the surrounding environment, including several miles of the Rock River and its tributaries.

The settlement calls for CCP to pay $150,000 to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Winnebago County to settle alleged violations of the state’s Environmental Protection Act.

Madigan said CCP also agreed to pay $270,000 to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to fund restoration of two nature areas near the Rock River. The company will also pay for a $150,000 stream restoration project in the affected area.

Kauai Biomass Facility to Get Fuel from Burned Forest

- by Chris D’Angelo, March 5, 2015, The Garden Island

Biomass logging in HawaiiIt is unlike any other logging operation in Hawaii’s history.

And the $90 million biomass-to-energy facility the logs are destined for is as unique as the project itself, state officials say.

“This is the largest operation that we’ve had,” said Lisa Hadway, administrator of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife, on a tour of the once-charred grounds Wednesday. “Given that the biomass plant is here on this island, I think this is a great way to help us improve this forest for recreation, for the watershed and for the restoration of this area.”

Now well underway, the Kokee Forest Restoration and Replanting Project calls for the removal of an estimated 15,000 tons of eucalyptus and pine trees from about 300 acres of forest reserve land scorched during fires in the summer of 2012, followed by the replanting of native and non-invasive species.

In January 2013, former Gov. Neil Abercrombie green-lighted the project via an emergency proclamation. Its purposes include “mitigating the post-fire damage” from the three blazes that burned about 4,000 acres in the Kokee area and eliminating the threat to public health and safety from potentially devastating post-fire effects, including flash flooding and erosion.

Biomass: The Unsustainable Energy Source

- by Atheo, Aletho News
 
biomass logging in frisco, coloradoThe promotional material from Big Green Energy, aka Biomass Gas & Electric, presents biomass as "clean, renewable energy," sustainable and green. The US Department of Energy uses the terms "clean and renewable" when introducing visitors at its website to the topic.
 
But is it accurate to describe the repeated removal of biomass from agricultural or forested lands as sustainable? A quick review of some basics on the role of organic matter in soils belies the claim.
 
To support healthy plant life, soil must contain organic matter, plants don’t thrive on minerals and photosynthesis alone. As organic matter breaks down in soil nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur are released. Organic matter is the main source of energy (food) for microorganisms. A higher level of microbial activity at a plant’s root zone increases the rate of nutrient transfer to the plant. As the organic matter decreases in soil so does this biochemical activity. Without organic matter, soil biochemical activity would nearly stop.

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