Bulgarians Blockade Road to Protest Proposed Biomass Incinerator

- September 22, 2014, Novinite.com

Residents of the southern Bulgarian city of Smolyan have staged a brief road block to oppose plans to build a biomass-fired thermal power plant.

Residents of the Ustovo district of Smolyan blocked traffic along the Smolyan – Madan road for some 10 minutes on Monday, according to reports of the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency and Capital Daily.

The protesters demand a clarification by the municipality and the respective competent authorities on the environmental impact of the project and the legality of the permits issued so far.

Nikolay Melemov, Mayor of Smolyan, announced Monday that the permit for the designing of the site had been issued by the Smolyan Municipality in 2011 and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the plant had been approved after that.

He vowed to review the paperwork surrounding the project and to appeal the EIA in the case of detecting irregularities.

Forest Service and Collaboratives Garden Our Forests

- by George Wuerthner, September 25, 2014, The Wildlife News

If the public really understood the illogic behind Forest Service polices, including those endorsed by forest collaboratives, I am certain there would be more opposition to current Forest Service policies.

First, most FS timber sales lose money. They are a net loss to taxpayers. After the costs of road construction, sale layout and environmental analyses, wildlife surveys, (reforestration and other mitigation if required) is completed, most timber sales are unprofitable.

Indeed, the FS frequently uses a kind of accounting chicanery, often ignoring basic overhead costs like the money spent on trucks, gasoline, office space, and the personnel expenses of other experts like wildlife biologists, soil specialists and hydrologists that may review a timber sale during preparation that ought to be counted as a cost of any timber program.

The FS will assert that ultimately there are benefits like logging roads provide access for recreation or that thinning will reduce wildfire severity. However, as will be pointed out later, most of these claims are not really benefits. We have thousands of miles of roads already, and adding more does not create a benefit. Reducing wildfires–even if thinning did do this which is questionable–it can be argued that we should not be reducing wildfire severity.

Are Biomass Incinerators Gobbling Up Firewood?

[While we are certainly not advocating for any form of burning, including firewood, it's interesting how the biomass industry competes with itself. -Ed.]

- by Anna Simet, October 03, 2014, Biomass Magazine

Last week, I blogged about the pellet availability situation in the Northeast (the “shortage” last year, what might happen this year, etc.) What I didn’t mention—new to my radar this week— is that right now, the very same thing is going on with cordwood that did with pellets. It’s been making headlines in several northeastern states.

So, I called up my friend and Biomass Magazine columnist John Ackerly, president of the Alliance for Green Heat, to get some more details on the situation. 

He said he’s never seen a situation like this.

Allentown, PA Kills Controversial Waste Incinerator Proposal

- by Emily Opilo, October 1, 2014, McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

More than two years after the deal's controversial approval, Allentown has terminated its contract with Delta Thermo Energy, ending speculation about whether the company would ever build a proposed waste-to-energy facility in the city.

In a letter dated Sept. 26, Allentown solicitor Jerry Snyder wrote that Bucks County-based Delta Thermo Energy had "consistently failed to advance" plans for a 48,000-square-foot facility on Kline's Island that would have burned pulverized municipal waste and sewage sludge to generate electricity.

300 Fracked Gas Power Plants Proposed in 45 States: Any Near You? [Energy Justice Now, Sept. 2014]

Ready or not, here it comes: the September issue of Energy Justice Network's new publication, Energy Justice Now!

Inside this issue:

“Why We Must Fight Gas-Fired Power Plants”

- “Energy Justice Summer: Standing With Communities in the Shalefields

- “What the Frack? Scraping the Bottom of the Oil Barrel

...and more!!!

Please share the September 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.

Unforeseen Dioxin Formation in Waste Incineration

- by  Ingrid Söderbergh, September 18, 2014, Phys.org

Dioxins forms faster, at lower temperatures and under other conditions than previously thought. This may affect how we in the future construct sampling equipment, flue gas filtering systems for waste incineration and how to treat waste incineration fly ash. These are some of the conclusions Eva Weidemann draws in her doctoral thesis, which she defends at Umeå University on Friday the 26 of September.

Dioxins is a collective name for a specific group of chlorinated organic molecules where some exhibit hormone disrupting and carcinogenic properties. Dioxins can form in waste incineration, as the flue gases cool down.

"When you incinerate waste, some dioxin formation is inevitable, but with the modern flue gas cleaning systems the emission through the stack is minimized, The dioxins are filtered from the flue gases and end up in the fly ash", says Eva Weidemann.

Why We Must Fight Gas-fired Power Plants

- by Mike Ewall, Energy Justice Network

The Ban Ki Moon U.N. Climate Summit is shortly coming to New York City. As we march and teach workshops at climate convergences, the media is likely to focus on the story of the Obama administration’s “Clean Power Plan” moving us away from coal in order to mitigate climate change. The story won’t be told that this plan will do more harm than good, mainly by ignoring methane and enabling a huge move from coal to gas-fired power plants.

The plan also does more harm than good by not regulating CO2 from trash incineration (2.5 times as bad as coal for the climate) and biomass incineration (50% worse), thus encouraging a large-scale conversion to burning everything from trash to trees. Other EPA deregulation efforts allowing waste burning to escape regulation by calling waste a “fuel” are also clearing the way for this toxic, climate-cooking disaster.

A leading researcher for a major fracking corporation recently confided in me that this move from coal to gas will spell disaster for climate change, confirming that if only about 3% of the gas escapes, it’s as bad as burning coal. Actual leakage rates are far higher (4-9% just at the fracking fields and more in pipelines and distribution systems), but it was most interesting to hear this person admit that the industry will never get below that level of leakage to become less harmful than coal.

We now know that methane is 86 to 105 times as potent as CO2 over a 20-year time-frame -- we’re in real trouble if we keep using the outdated “20 times over 100 years” figure EPA maintains, and permit this new generation of gas-burning to be built.

Why is it strategic to focus on the power plants?  Read on…

1) Gas burned for electricity is the largest source of gas demand since 2007. From 1997 to 2013, it more than doubled and is poised to keep growing.

2) Stopping power plants is more winnable than fighting fracking, liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, pipelines or compressor stations. Stopping fracking one community at a time isn't a winning strategy when the industry has thousands of communities targeted, and rural neighbors pit against neighboring landowners desperate for lease money. State and regional bans and moratoria have been effective so far, but LNG terminals, pipelines and compressor stations have federal preemption aspects that make them hard to fight through local or state government.

Fighting proposed LNG export terminals also has the "weak link" problem.  Ten years ago, when we were fighting LNG import terminals, there were 40 proposals throughout the U.S., but the industry and government officials admitted they only needed six – two each on the east, west and gulf coasts. Now that they're planning export terminals, there are nearly 30 proposals, and the same dynamic is at play, where the industry has stated in their conferences that they only need two on each coast, after which they'll toss out the rest of their proposals and "let environmentalists take the credit." Cynical as that is, it's not a strategy we can defeat if we're trying to attack gas demand, since it's unlikely we can beat enough to prevent the planned export volumes -- especially due to federal preemption and the clustering of most proposals on the oil- and gas-dominated Gulf Coast, where it's far harder to stop them.

Each gas-fired power plant blocked is a certain amount of gas burning and fracking prevented, while we can stop over 20 LNG terminals without putting a dent in planned export volumes. While work against the LNG export terminals is commendable, it should not be prioritized over stopping the rush to build hundreds of gas-burning power plants.

3) Attacking proposals can only be done in a certain time window, or we're doomed to roughly 30 years of power plant operation and gas demand. Although coal power plants are dirtier to live near, all of the funding and resources being put into closing coal plants while ignoring (or endorsing) new gas power plants, is misguided. Existing power plants can be tackled at any time, but proposals have to be fought when they're proposed, or it's too late. Also, coal production has peaked in the U.S., prices are going up, and gas is undercutting coal. It's effectively illegal to build new coal power plants and the industry is already moving quickly to shut and replace coal. The question is:  will we allow a switch from coal to gas, or force a change to conservation, efficiency, wind and solar?

So, if there are plans for gas-burning power plants in your area, whether it’s a new plant, an expansion or conversion of an existing plant, or reopening of a closed plant, please be in touch so we can plug you in with others who are fighting these. There is strength in numbers!

Biomass Incinerators Sue Feds for $22 Million

- by Maeusz Perkoswki, September 16, 2014, Capital Press

Two biomass facilities in California that use agricultural waste to generate electricity claim the federal government owes them about $22 million.

The plaintiffs — Ampersand Chowchilla Biomass and Merced Power — claim the U.S. Treasury Department is wrongly withholding funds from an economic stimulus program that helps pay for renewable energy projects.

Each company invested more than $40 million to build facilities in Chowchilla and Merced that rely on boilers and turbines to produce energy from agricultural byproducts, such as orchard trimmings and nut shells, as well as other sources of waste.

The facilities became operational in 2011 and applied to the Treasury Department for reimbursements of 30 percent of the project costs, which were available through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Instead of providing each company with the full amount, roughly $12 million apiece, the government only reimbursed each of them for about $1 million, the complaint said.

September issue of The Biomass Monitor: "Does This Look Like ‘Sustainable’ Energy to You?"

Comin' right at ya, the September issue of The Biomass Monitor, the nation's leading publication tracking the health and environmental impacts of "biomass" energy.

Inside this issue, "Does This Look Like Sustainable Energy to You?"

-"SCANDALOUS PHOTOS: Beauty Stripped Bare”

-"Forest Service Moves to Clearcut Rim Fire Area"

-"Stalled Springfield, MA Biomass Incinerator Back from the Dead”

...and more!

Please share the September 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. 

Springfield, MA Mayor Blocks Appeal Against Biomass Incinerator

- by Paul Tuthill, September 12, 2014, WAMC

The mayor of Springfield, Massachusetts won’t authorize an appeal to block construction of a wood-burning power plant.

A spokesman for Mayor Domenic Sarno said the mayor will not approve funds to appeal a court ruling that ordered the city to reinstate the building permit for the biomass project.  The city council voted 11-1 to file an appeal. Sarno’s spokesman said the mayor would not spend more taxpayer money on the case, because appeals are also being filed by neighbors of the proposed plant and community organizer Michaelann Bewsee, who said the plant will contribute to air pollution.

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