Questions of Reliability at Gainesville, Florida’s Biomass Generator Raises Concerns

- December 17, 2014, Before It’s News

In December 2013, the GREC Biomass generator was taken off-line to install noise-absorbing panels inside the main stack in an effort to quiet numerous noise complaints from residents living in Turkey Creek and surrounding communities. Even while noise and dust complaits continue, GRU/GREC, the City of Gaiesville and Alachua County have closed public access to log local complaints – requiring citizens to file complaints in the on-responsive vacuum of the State environmental protection department.

Through public records access, it’s now revealed that defective equipment at the GRU/GREC biomass generator was reported only a few months after the down-time required for noise abatement -  a revelation that has only recently come to light for public notice and GRU ratepayer review.

By GRU’/GREC’s s own estimate, the off-line time required to correct the defective parts could save GRU ratepayers $160,000 per day or a total of $2.2 million dollars.

Study Finds Ethanol Worse For Air Quality Than Gasoline

- by Bill Hudson, December 17, 2014, CBS Minnesota

For years, the state’s corn and ethanol industries have touted the environmental benefits of burning the alternative fuel in our vehicles.

But newly released research from the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering is raising eyebrows.

The study compared pollution levels from gasoline fuel and 10 alternative energy vehicles, including hybrid electric, natural gas and corn-based ethanol.

One of the most surprising findings is that ethanol might actually be worse for air quality than conventional gasoline fueled transportation.

Maryland “Zero-Waste” Plan Draws Fire Over Inclusion of Incineration

- by Timothy B. Wheeler, December 15, 2014, The Baltimore Sun

With Marylanders throwing away far more trash per person than the average American, the O'Malley administration released a long-range plan Monday to virtually eliminate placing waste in state landfills in the next 25 years. The plan is drawing mixed reaction, however, as environmentalists criticize the blueprint's embrace of burning debris to generate energy.

State officials say that curtailing placing waste in landfills can save communities and taxpayers money, conserve energy and natural resources, and reduce pollution, including the release of climate-warming greenhouse gases.

Marylanders have more than doubled their recycling rates in the past two decades, the plan notes, now diverting about 45 percent of what once was thrown away. However, the state's residents still discard more than half their waste, with most of that going to landfills, according to the Maryland Department of the Environment.

In a statement accompanying the plan's release, Gov. Martin O'Malley called it "an ambitious policy framework to create green jobs and business opportunities while virtually doing away with the inefficient waste disposal practices that threaten our future."

A Dollar a Day Keeps the Smokestacks Away

This is not just another fundraising letter.  We want to remind you of all the services we provide to help YOU protect your community from corporate polluters.  After all, Energy Justice Network exists to empower, inform, advise and support grassroots activists to win victories -- transforming communities from dumping grounds for dirty energy and waste industries into vibrant places where clean solutions can flourish.

We're excited that 2014 has been our best year yet, with 16 victories that we helped make possible.  It's also been our best year for individual donations, totaling about $80,000 so far.  Our goal is to reach $100,000 by the end of the year.  Please help if you can by making a donation of $15-150 for 2015!  We plan to expand our capacity to better serve the many communities seeking our support over the coming year.

How we help you win:

Community Organizing Support and Advice - We've "been there and done that" and can help you get a community group organized and on a path to victory.  We can help with strategy development, outreach plans, how to use open records laws and public hearings to your advantage, social media strategies, corporate research, designing flyers and websites, and much more.

Getting Networked! – We can put you in touch with other grassroots activists who you might want to know in your area, or those elsewhere who have fought the same company, technology or fuel, so you can learn from their experience.  We also use conference calls and email discussion lists to help you connect on specific issues.  We have lists on natural gas, nuclear, coal, several types of incineration (separate lists for trash, biomass, tire and poultry waste incineration), ethanol biorefineries, electric power transmission lines and more.

Information / Research – We document the problems with technologies that communities face, making complex info into useful factsheetspowerpoints and articles available through our two newsletters, Energy Justice Now and The Biomass Monitor, and throughout our Energy Justice.net and EJnet.org websites.  We have access to legal and science journal databases, and data from industry conferences that we can tap to help you.

Speaking / Trainings - Need a speaker, trainer or workshop presenter?  We do trainings for students, community groups and conferences on a range of topics and skills.  See Mike and Alex's topic lists for a guide.

Limited Legal and Technical Support - We help communities stop polluters with local ordinances, and understand many complex technical and legal issues.

Energy Justice Map - Our interactive mapping site tracks existing, proposed, closed and defeated dirty energy and waste facilities, the corporations behind them, and the people and groups fighting them.  It allows you to share information on polluters you're fighting, let people find your group through our site, and learn what polluters are in (or planned for) your area. 

Our new JusticeMap.org site is the first to enable easy race and class demographic mapping, and is being integrated into our mapping site, so you can easily build environmental justice maps, showing if polluters are targeting low-income or communities of color.  Our newest EJ mapping tool allows you to evaluate environmental justice trends in entire industries.

Policy Analysis and Development - With an eye for loopholes that would allow polluting industries to continue to harm communities, we've pushed to strengthen energy, waste and climate policies at all levels of government, and among our environmental allies.

Working with Students and Youth - We have a long history with the student environmental movement, from working with the Student Environmental Action Coalition since the 1990s, to co-founding Energy Action Coalition in 2004, to founding state-wide student environmental networks in Pennsylvania and Ohio.  Our new Energy Justice Shale Initiative has brought students and recent college graduates together in a group house to work with shalefield residents fighting fracking, compressor stations and pipelines in the most fracked community in the nation, in northeastern Pennsylvania.  

An Energy Justice Shale Convergence is planned for mid-March to train students and others to support local residents in Susquehanna County, PA.  We have other campus organizing resources compiled here.

Activist Calendar - Share your events on our calendar!  It's the only one to organize events by geography, so if you sign up for our map and want event updates by email, you'll see all the major events, and only have to see the local ones for your area.

Action Alert System - Tired of using online petitions like change.org where you don't get all of the contact info from those who sign?  So were we, so we made our own system, which Energy Justice member groups can also use (joining is free!).  You'll get the full contact info from all who sign, and can target state or national legislators by district, or other email targets.  Unlike change.org, the message will go to the target, and direct from the signer's email.  Messages and alerts can include links and images, too!  Contact us if you're interested.


How do we provide all of this with a skeleton crew of two full-time and four part-time people and almost no overhead costs?  Let's just say, we're good at what we do, and are the best investment you can make to support grassroots work over the coming year!  Please make a generous donation of $15-150 for 2015.  Regular, monthly donations (no matter how small) are even better!

...and if we're the ones who should be supporting you, please be in touch and we'll join you on the path to victory!

Happy Holidays!

Mike, Traci, Aaron, Alex, Josh and Samantha

Biomass Industry Plays with Fire, Gets Burned

- by Josh Schlossberg, The Biomass Monitor

Smokestack emissions aren’t the only public health concern when it comes to biomass energy facilities. Fires and explosions have been responsible for multiple injuries and five deaths at biomass facilities and storage vessels over the past three decades.

As of January 2015, fires and/or explosions have occurred at 28 industrial biomass facilities and storage areas, based on research from UK-based Port Talbot Residents Against Power Stations and The Biomass Monitor. Additionally, over 45 wood pellet plants and 20 wood products mills have experienced fires of varying levels of intensity and destructiveness.  

Clean is the New Dirty | December issue of The Biomass Monitor

You guessed right, the December issue of The Biomass Monitor — the nation’s leading publication tracking the health and environmental impacts of bioenergy — is here!

Inside this issue:

- Ten Things You Need to Know if You Burn Wood

Biomass Incinerator a Threat to Children

I Can’t Breathe: Air Pollution Worse for Communities of Color

...and more!

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

Subscribe to monthly email issues of The Biomass Monitor!

 

 

2014 Farm Bill Logs National Forests for Bioenergy

- December 17, 2014, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that more than 200,000 tons of biomass were removed from federal lands through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). BCAP, reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, provided incentives for the removal of dead or diseased trees from National Forests and Bureau of Land Management lands for renewable energy, while reducing the risk of forest fire. This summer, 19 energy facilities in 10 states participated in the program.

"This initiative helps to retrieve forest residues that are a fire risk, but otherwise are costly to remove," said Vilsack. "In just three months, working with private partners across the country, the program helped to reduced fire, disease and insect threats while providing more biomass feedstock for advanced energy facilities."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farm Service Agency administered the program earlier this year. Eligible farmers, ranchers or foresters participating in BCAP received a payment to partially offset the cost of harvesting and delivering forest or agricultural residues to a qualified energy facility. Up to $12.5 million is available each year for biomass removal.

Key program accomplishments include:

In Colorado's Front Range, 18,000 tons of trees targeted by the USDA Forest Service to reduce forest fire threats were removed to generate energy.

In California's Rim Fire area in Tuolumne County, nearly 100 percent of the USDA Forest Service's targeted 40,000 tons of forest residue was approved for removal and transport to energy facilities.

In Arizona, 41,000 tons of forest residue in Apache and Navajo counties were approved for removal and transport to energy facilities.

In Oscoda County, Mich., home of the Huron Manistee National Forest, 5,000 tons of forest residue were approved for removal and transport to energy facilities.

These accomplishments helped the Forest Service meet or exceed its restoration goals for Fiscal Year 2014, including reducing hazardous fuels on 1.7 million acres in the wildland urban interface and sustaining or restoring watershed conditions on 2.9 million acres, resulting in 2.8 billion board feet of timber volume sold. To further support this program, the Forest Service has entered into a three-year, $1.5 million agreement to provide technical assistance to the Farm Service Agency as they implement BCAP on National Forest System lands. This will enable the development and execution of biomass sales, and help open and support new and existing markets for biomass products.

Minnesota Ethanol Plant Fined $25K for Air Pollution and Noise

- December 11, 2014, Associated Press

The Corn Plus ethanol plant in the south-central Minnesota city of Winnebago has agreed to pay a $25,000 penalty and take steps to reduce its air pollution and noise levels.

The corrective actions announced by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on Wednesday mark the latest step by officials to bring the plant into compliance with environmental regulations.

Corn Plus has paid about $660,000 in state and federal penalties for air and water quality violations and agreed to environmental improvements costing nearly $700,000 since 2009.

Corn Plus has an application pending with the MPCA for renewal of its environmental permits. Under its latest agreement with the agency, the company must submit more information for that application to move forward.

$181,000 Fine for Ethanol Air Pollution in Albany, NY

- by Brian Nearing, December 12, 2014, Times Union

An oil terminal operator at the Port of Albany has been hit with a $181,000 penalty by the state Department of Environmental Conservation for air pollution violations that lasted nearly a year.

Buckeye Partners failed to properly control vapor emissions from ethanol — a corn-based biofuel used as a gasoline additive — from trucks being loaded at the port, according to a DEC news release issued late Friday. The violations "did not result in any material air quality impacts," according to the release.

As part of a consent order reached last month, the penalty includes a $145,000 "community benefit project" that Buckeye will pay for in the neighborhood around the port. DEC will work with the community to identify the project.

Covanta Settles for $536,211 in Lawsuit Over Biomass Ash Testing

-December 11, 2014, Bakersfield Californian

District attorneys from eight California counties announced Thursday the settlement of a civil environmental enforcement action against three subsidiaries of a New Jersey-based company.

The settlement covers Covanta Energy LLC's Kern County biomass energy facility in Delano, along with other company facilities in Mendota and Oroville.

Kern County will receive about $75,000 as its reimbursement for costs and penalties out of Covanta's total fine of $536,211.

Biomass energy plants burn forest, agricultural and urban wood fuels in order to generate electricity. They produce ash waste streams that are either sent to landfills or have other uses in road building or agriculture.

The civil enforcement action was filed in Sacramento County and asserted that biomass ash sampling and analysis at the three Covanta facilities was not sufficiently rigorous.

The facilities will be bound under the terms of a permanent injunction prohibiting any future violations of law and requiring adherence to the new sampling and testing program for their biomass ash.

In addition to Kern and Sacramento counties, other counties participating in the action were Butte, Fresno, Glenn, Stanislaus, Tulare and Tuolumne.

Pages

Subscribe to Energy Justice Network RSS