Wood Stoves a Major Contributor to “Unhealthy” Air Days in Clallam County, WA

Read The Biomass Monitor's coverage of the story behind these air pollution tests: "Tracking Biomass Air Pollution on the Olympic Peninsula" 

-  by Arwyn Rice, July 14, 2014, Peninsula Daily News  

PORT ANGELES — Air quality in central and eastern Clallam County is generally good, but wood burning for home heating and transportation-related pollutants are contributing to occasional “unhealthy” air days, according to a year-long Olympic Region Clean Air Agency study.

Odelle Hadley, senior air monitoring specialist for the agency, presented the study to about 40 area residents during a meeting at the Port Angeles Library on Sunday.

The study, undertaken in 2013 to identify which location would best represent the area to test air quality, is a precursor to testing air quality impacts of the new co-generation biomass boiler at the Nippon Paper Industries USA Inc. plant in Port Angeles.

Nippon’s new biomass boiler — one of four boilers at the plant — was operational for about a month in November and December but has been under repair since, so the study does not reflect any impact the boiler may have on local air quality, Hadley said.

Council Concerned Over Reports of Land Contamination from Oklahoma Incinerator

-  by Josh Newtown, April 23, 2014, Tahlequah Daily Press

TAHLEQUAH — Negotiations involving the purchase of nearly 20 homes on 7 acres of land near Basin Avenue hit a snag Monday night when concerns surfaced over potential contamination of the area.

Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols had proposed the city purchase the homes and duplexes as a large step in a greenbelt project, which would establish a solid park and trail system from the downtown area to the site of the city’s old solid waste transfer station.

Until Monday, details of the negotiations had been mostly discussed behind closed doors, though Nichols confirmed the list price for the property to be $480,000.

After an executive session Monday night, councilors emerged and announced they had concerns that soil in the area might be contaminated. Councilors then voted unanimously to deny the purchase of the property.

“Of foremost concern is the questionable quality of the soil in the area,” Weston said in an email to the Daily Press. “We were informed [Monday] night that back in the ‘60s, the land where the homes sit now was a dump site from an incinerator. Waste was allegedly burned in an incinerator and then dumped on Basin as landfill. Knowing that young children would likely be exposed to any possible hazards, the councilors want to ensure the safety of our citizens and have the soil tested.”

Group Calls for Probe of Nova Scotia Biomass Logging

[The forest footprint for a biomass incinerator is massive. Will be interesting to see if any probe is done in regards to this facility. -Ed.]

-  by Erin Pottie, June 27, 2014, Cape Breton Bureau

A Cape Breton environmental group is calling for an emergency review of harvesting practices at Nova Scotia Power’s biomass plant in Point Tupper.

On Friday, the Margaree Environmental Association issued a letter to Premier Stephen McNeil requesting a delay in harvesting to allow the province to examine the plant’s wood supply.

Association co-chair Neal Livingston said the plant has shown itself to be a “voracious” consumer of wood fibre.

Not only is quality material being directed to the plant, there is also too much forest resource being cut, he added.

“You basically kinda have a monster there and it wants to be fed,” Livingston said. “I think that rather than get it wrong and have it continue to be a bigger and bigger problem, it’s a really good time to take a look at what’s going on here.”

NSP has said up to 650,000 tonnes of wood waste will be needed to run the plant per year.

The 60-megawatt power generating station, located in Richmond County, is part of Nova Scotia’s plan to source 25 per cent of the province’s electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

But in recent months, business owners who rely on the forest for a living have told The Chronicle Herald that high-quality hardwoods are making their way into the biomass plant.

Biomass Industry Lashes Out at Solar Subsidies

[The heavily-subsidized, polluting biomass energy industry cries foul over getting a smaller slice of the taxpayer pie than smokestack-free solar energy in California. -Ed.] 

-  by Bonner R. Cohen, July 15, 2014, Heartland

The California Wind Energy Association and other renewable energy groups criticized a new law extending special tax breaks to the California solar power industry. Wind power, biomass, and geothermal power groups say the special benefits for solar power tilt the playing field against other renewable power options.

Senate Bill 871, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on June 20, extends until 2025 an exemption for solar power systems from state property taxes. The existing exemption was not scheduled to expire until 2017, but the legislature rushed the new exemption into law at the end of the session with almost no advance notice or opportunity for debate.

Renewable Groups Criticize Solar Deal
"There is no reason for the State Legislature and Governor Brown to extend a property tax exemption to large scale solar energy projects at this time," said Nancy Rader, executive director of the California Wind Energy Association, in a press statement.

"What is disturbing is this tax break for the solar industry comes at a time when existing biomass projects are shutting down," Julee Malinowski-Ball, executive director for the California Biomass Energy Alliance, said in the same press statement. "Wind and geothermal renewable energy producers are also facing challenges in getting utilities to recontract for their existing resources. California needs these resources to balance our energy portfolio and meet long-term greenhouse gas reduction goals."

Massachusetts Grants Millions to Biomass Industry

[Millions of taxpayer dollars go to polluting biomass incineration under the guise of "clean" energy. -Ed.]

-  by Anna Simet, June 5, 2014, Biomass Magazine

Massachusetts has dedicated $3.5 million to nine renewable thermal projects in the state through a new grant program, the Massachusetts Renewable Thermal Business Investment Financing Program.

Funds for the program are being drawn from the state’s Alternative Compliance Payment funds, which are payments made by electricity suppliers when they do not meet state renewable energy portfolio standard obligations. Payment amounts vary according to technology class and compliance year. For example, in 2014, suppliers in RPS Class I—which includes sources installed after 1997—must pay $66.16 per MWh not achieved.

 Each year, ACP funds are allocated by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. Through the new program, a variety of technologies are eligible for funding, including woody biomass, grass pellets, advanced biofuels, biogas, solar thermal, and inverter driven air and ground source heat pumps.

Cutting the Trees We Need to Save the Forest

-  by Bob Berwyn, July 7, 2014, The Colorado Independent

Even here, in a cool forest hollow near Tenmile Creek, you can feel the tom-toms.

It’s a distant beat, born in the marbled halls of Congress, where political forces blow an ill wind across Colorado’s forests. Nearly every Western elected official with a clump of shrubby cottonwoods in his or her jurisdiction claims to be a forest expert. And when senators and congress members make forest policy, rhetoric usually trumps science — as is the case with laws requiring new logging projects that may wipe out some of the very trees needed to replenish forests in the global warming era.

The drumbeat of support for logging is a political response to the threat of a forest health crisis that no longer exists, and maybe never did.

Showing their natural resilience, Colorado forests are bouncing back from the pine beetle outbreak that peaked between 2007 and 2009, when the bugs spread across a mind-boggling 1 million acres of forest each year. But by last year, bug numbers dropped back to natural levels — just enough to take out a stand of sick, old trees now and then. Contrary to the spin out of D.C., it’s nature’s way. After all, pine beetles are no foreign invaders. They evolved with lodgepoles over millions of years to drive forest death and rebirth.

Shuttered Texas Biomass Incinerator to Reopen

-  June 23, 2014, Bioenergy Insight

InventivEnergy, an asset management firm, has selected NRG Energy Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of NRG Energy, to restart the Aspen Power biomass plant located in Lufkin, Texas.

NRG will also operate and maintain the facility once it resumes operation. The plant first opened in August 2011 and was the first wood-fired biomass power plant in the state. It can consume about 525,000 tonnes of logging debris and municipal wood waste per year.

The Aspen power plant has the capacity to deliver approximately 50MW to the grid and uses locally sourced clean wood-waste biomass as its fuel supply. Work to restart the facility began in mid-May and commercial operations are expected to be achieved by late July. NRG is in the process of hiring the site management team and operating staff.

'The Aspen Power facility was shut down in the fall of 2012 due to market economics. Since then, our projections show an attractive opportunity for the plant to resume operations and provide competitively-priced clean energy to the Texas market,' says John Keller, CEO and founder of InventivEnergy.

Activists Shut Down Seneca Biomass Incinerator in Eugene, Oregon

- by Cascadia Forest Defenders, July 7, 2014, Forest Defense Now

Scores 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.”

The activists are bringing attention to Seneca Jones Timber’s role in privatizing the Elliott State Forest. This month Seneca closed on their purchase of 788 acres in the Elliott, called East Hakki Ridge. Co-owner of Seneca Kathy Jones recently expressed the company’s intention to clearcut East Hakki and replace it with Douglas fir plantation.

Cascadia 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.”

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