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Oregon Senate OK’s Carbon Neutral Biomass Bill

- April 9, 2015, KTVZ

State Sen. Tim Knopp (R- Bend) carried Senate Bill 752 on the Senate floor Monday and the effort to declare biomass "carbon-neutral" sailed through unanimously.

SB 752 declares biomass to be carbon neutral, taking a rule previously created by the Department of Environmental Quality and making it law. It is chief sponsored by Knopp and Sen. Chris Edwards (D-Eugene), chair of the Senate Environment and National Resources Committee.

The bill passed out of committee last week on a bipartisan, unanimous vote and did the same on the Senate floor Monday.

"I believe it's important for Oregon to endorse the carbon neutrality of biomass. We have the opportunity to create jobs while also pursuing sound environmental policy." said Knopp.

SB 752 now heads to the House, where Knopp hopes it will be taken up soon. "This is a good bill, especially for rural Oregon," he said." I'm looking forward to the House sending this bill to the governor for her signature."

Boardman, Oregon Coal Plant Mulls Biomass

- by George Plaven, April 6, 2015, EO Media Group

As a potential source of renewable energy, giant cane could be the answer to saving Portland General Electric’s coal-fired power plant in Boardman long after the facility quits using coal by 2020.

On the other hand, as an invasive species, giant cane could spread wild across the Columbia Basin, choking out native vegetation and undoing years of work by local tribes to restore river habitat.

A proposed bill in Salem attempts to strike a balance between the competing environmental interests. House Bill 2183 would require farmers who grow giant cane for biomass or other commercial uses to post a $1 million surety bond with the Oregon Invasive Species Council. The money would pay for costly eradication efforts, should the crop escape from the field.

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.

Planned La Pine, OR Biomass Facility 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.

Local Opposition Affects Oregon Biofuel Plant

- by Al Maiorino, March 3, 2015, Environmental Leader

In 2014, the United States Departments of the Navy, Energy and Agriculture awarded a $70 million grant to Red Rock Biofuels for the design, construction, commissioning and performance testing of a new biofuel refinery.  The biorefinery is planned for Lakeview, Oregon, close to the Fremont Nation Forest and the intersecting state lines of Oregon, Nevada, and California. This new renewable project aims to expand military fuel sources, improve reliability of the nation’s fuel supply and prevent supply disruption to reinforce the nation’s energy security.  Despite these benefits that bring additional employment and revenue benefits for the local community of Lakeview, NIMBY, or “not in my backyard,” opponents to biofuel refineries across the United States run fierce opposition campaigns that threaten project completion.  These campaigns can often result in project delays or even cancellation all together, and despite a properly zoned site.

Two Lake County Commissioners, Brad Winters and Ken Kestner, support the biofuel project and believe that when completed, the project will improve Lakeview’s air quality by creating healthier forests and preventing forest fires. Additionally, Oregon Business wrote an economic report stating that the biofuel plant would create up to “25 direct and 79 to 109 indirect and induced jobs,” resulting in an increase in labor income. However, Commissioner Winters acknowledged the myths promoted by the opposition that take hold by noting that those opposed to the creation of the biorefinery are not basing their concerns and objections on factual information.  Winters emphasized the importance of community members’ attendance at review workshops and hearings in order to become more informed as state and federal agencies evaluate the proposal as a prerequisite for completion.

Despite a successful rezone of the proposed site by the Lake County Planning Board, opponents remain focused on keeping the proposal out of their community. They fear that transporting these biofuels through the Lake County railroad from Lakeview to Alturas could possibly result in derailments with damaging effects on the community. The opposition is highly organized, holding meetings to strategize and planning petition drives to re-open the process for public comment before the County Commissioners. As is the case with some projects, the opposition group is also instigating a recall drive against Lake County Commissioners and Lakeview Town Council members, showing that all land use truly is political in nature.

Meanwhile, supporters are hoping that this project will receive the necessary approvals according to current plans so construction can begin in summer or fall of 2015 for operations to commence by 2016.  Just as the opponents have utilized grassroots tactics to add to their numbers, so too much supporters. To save time and money, companies must engage communities and stakeholders throughout the entire permitting process to ensure that community members are informed and engaged every step. By identifying and mobilizing members of what is often the silent majority, public support can be built throughout Lake County for a quick and successful project approval.

Exploiting Private Forests for Bioenergy

- by Roy Keene

The debate over a single wood powered electrical generator in Eugene has been myopically focused on just one project and one proposed fuel source. Supporters for Seneca Sawmill Co.’s proposed power plant have yet to publicly mention that slash could be replaced with chipped trees as fuel prices rise, or that this plant could be the first of many as wood-generated electricity becomes more profitable.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “The Eugene-Springfield area is one of the largest wood products processing areas in the world.” This area is also the epicenter for a huge volume of industrially owned forest biomass. With industry’s infrastructure in place and hundreds of thousands of acres in tree plantations, our area is ideally positioned for wood-fueled electrical power generating. Once Seneca has perfected their generating process and shown profits by selling electricity back to the grid, similar proposals and projects can be expected — especially as more federal “green” energy subsidies become available.

Green Crony Capitalism: Oregon’s Governor and the Grifter(s)

- by Michael Donnelly, February 13, 2015, Salem News

Oregon’s Governor-for-Life John Kitzhaber, 68, resigned Friday the 13th. His resignation letter was the usual lawyerly-parsed, blame-the-media/take no responsibility sham we’re used to seeing. 

He had been governor from 1995-2003 and again from 2011 until now. 

The basic allegations which forced the rest of the state’s Democratic Party elite – Senate President, House Speaker, State Treasurer and others to join the state’s largest newspaper and call for his resignation - involve influence-peddling by his ten-year girlfriend/fiancée Cylvia Hayes. 

Hayes, 48, - a woman with a grifter’s history - pretty much publicly advertised that her clout with the governor was for sale and cashed in for over $200,000 at the same time she was his advisor on energy policy, working out of the governor’s mansion and using government employees as subordinates. 

The most damning allegation? She took over $118,000 from a sham non-profit that went defunct without ever filing a report with the IRS. She herself never reported her payments. The entire purpose was to shake loose tens of millions of state subsidies for “Green” Energy projects. 

The Energy Foundation - Banksters for the “Green” “Movement.”

 

It’s all because of something called the 25 by 25 Renewable Energy Portfolio standards that were quietly adopted in Oregon (and many other states). It requires that 25% of the energy mix in Oregon’s grid to come from Renewable sources by 2025. 

 

A shadowy non-profit called The Apollo Alliance went state to state pushing the concept. Suddenly, there was a huge pool of tax money to be tapped by private entities with ties to renewable energy. Mission Accomplished!

 

In 2013, Cylvia Hayes was hired by the Energy Foundation. This San Francisco group, tied to billionaire Democrat sugar daddy and potential California US Senate candidate Tom Steyer, paid her $40,000 dollars and funded part of her fellowship with Clean Economy Development Center (CEDC), a clean energy group based in Washington, D.C, though Hayes seems to have been their only paid fellow. Another top green paymaster, the Rockefeller Bros. Fund also contributed. 

 

Jessica Bailey, of 1sky/350.org and a former program officer for sustainable development at the Rockefeller Bros. Fund also was a strategic adviser to CEDC. Hayes’ fellowship salary was the $118,000 she did not report. The CEDC was stripped of its tax status in 2014 for failing to file IRS returns for three consecutive years. 

 

The most damning thing for Kitzhaber is that he then hired the guy, Dan Carol who arranged for Hayes’ Fellowship as his own highest-paid aide - at a $162,720 annual salary; nearly twic Kitzhaber’s own $98,600 salary. Somehow, they thought no one would notice!

 

The “Green” Biomassacre

 

Number of years the United States could meet its energy needs by burning all its trees: 1 - Harpers List, January 2006

 

The Apollo Alliance and allies have also been traveling around pushing Biomass projects, greenwashing the forest habitat, species and huge carbon cost of burning trees (let alone trash which they also consider “renewable”) - a process 1.5 times dirtier than burning coal - for small amounts of electrons. 

 

There’s a reason for it. After all the tens of millions in wind farm subsidies and other renewables, they make up about 4.7% of the power in Oregon’s grid – power that is useless on its own without coal-powered, steam-generated baseload energy regulating the grid from the Boardman Coal Plant, Oregon’s largest carbon polluter.

 

That 4.7% barely keeps up with the increases in consumption. And, now the Boardman Plant is being forced to go off coal and --- you guessed it --- switch over to Biomass. Burning our forests is the only way they can possibly meet the 25% target (Though some are trying to get Nukes declared renewables for portfolio purposes!)

 

Since the Democrats cannot call for the necessary reduced energy consumption in our grow-or-die economy (they’ve proven that time and again in their regular endorsements of oil wars), they have fully embraced forest liquidation for Biomass. 

 

Green groups funded by the same cabal of foundations (who collectively operate as the Environmental Grantmakers Association – EGA) have also come on board plans to strip forests for Biomass under the guise of fire-proofing them. 

 

That part of the equation has corrupted elected officials at the federal level with Democrats Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Peter DeFazio echoing John Kitzhaber and the two other Democrats on the State Land Board in calling for massive increases in logging on public forests – state and federal - and successful plans to sell off parts of our state forests.

 

The quietly adopted 25 by 25 Renewable Energy Portfolio corrupted Oregon Democrats...as a whole, not just Kitzhaber. It’s also one of those tip of the iceberg things. 

 

Green Crony Capitalism is also a national phenomenon, not just Oregon. And it’s been exposed here and hit here in Oregon hard because it's partly a one-party state thing, the fact that the Oregon GOP is certifiable is a sad part of the equation. Flat Earthers would be a kind way of describing them. 

 

The fact that a lot of this was known before the election and Oregonians still voted for Kitzhaber is telling. His opponent was atrocious. There are no more Tom McCalls, Vic Atiyehs or even Bob Packwoods in the Oregon GOP. They’d be drummed out in a second these days. 

Lakeview Biofuel Plant Proposal Raises Air Quality Concerns

- September 25, 2014, Oregon Public Broadcasting

A project proposed in Lakeview, Oregon, would turn woody biomass from logging into biofuels for Southwest Airlines, the U.S. Navy and Marines.

The biofuel would have fewer greenhouse gas emissions than traditional jet fuel and diesel, but some worry the project might add to existing air quality problems in southern Oregon.

Red Rock Biofuels of Fort Collins, Colorado, received a $4.1 million design and engineering grant from the U.S. Department of Defense earlier to help develop the project.

On Friday, the department announced new contracts with the company to supply fuel to the U.S. Navy and Marines. This week, Southwest Airlines announced plans to buy 3 million gallons of the company’s low-carbon jet fuel.

The biofuel refinery has yet to be built, but it’s clearly gaining momentum.

Betty Riley, executive director of the South Central Oregon Economic Development District, said most people in the community are “tentatively optimistic” that the project will be built as planned. But they’re cautious about new developments – particularly after Iberdrolas decided to halt construction on its $100 million Lakeview biomass plant in 2011.

“It’s a new technology, so its always challenging to see if they can make it pencil,” Riley said. “But apparently they’ve done a lot of background work, and with the contracts and the support of the federal government, it is something that hopefully can sustain itself over time.”

But Lakeview resident Chris Zinda sees a problem looming. The area already has too much air pollution, he says, and a biofuel plant would add more.

“Lakeview already has poor air quality as it is,” Zinda said. “We’ve permitted a biomass facility in our already poor air quality. Now we have a proposed biofuel plant to boot.”

Zinda recently joined the Northwest Environmental Defense Center and several other environmental groups in petitioning the Environmental Protection Agency to reclassify Lakeview as a “non-attainment area” – or an area that doesn’t meet air quality standards under the Clean Air Act. If successful, the petition would result in new rules that would require Red Rock Biofuels to reduce or offset its air emissions so it doesn’t add to existing air pollution.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has recognized Lakeview’s air quality problem. The levels of particulate matter in the air exceeds the federally allowed limit – mostly because of wood stove pollution that gets trapped in the area during weather inversions.

The agency has proposed a plan that aims to avoid an EPA “non-attainment area” designation. The plan acknowledges that additional industry proposed in the Lakeview area will bump up against air pollution limits, preventing the state from issuing development permits.

“Any intermediate size to large industry wishing to expand or establish in Lakeview is restricted from doing so,” the agency states in justifying its plan.

So, its plan recommends replacing old wood stoves and shifting people away from wood-fired heat. It also proposes allowing companies to buy wood stove emissions offsets.

But Zinda says the DEQ hasn’t gone far enough. He wants the EPA to require all major polluters in Lakeview to reduce their emissions, as it would if the area were classified as “non-attainment.”

“Why should the citizens pay in their health and pocketbook while industry continues to pollute?” he said. “Corporations should at least be required to pay to worsen our air quality.”

Oregon Group Files Civil Rights Complaint Over Biomass Air Pollution

- by Lisa Arkin, August 6, 2014, Beyond Toxics
 
On August 6, Beyond Toxics filed a civil rights and environmental justice complaint with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) challenging the Lane County Regional Air Protection Agency’s decision to allow a power plant to increase its discharges of hazardous particulate matter. The complaint alleges that allowing Seneca Sustainable Energy to increase pollution discharges disproportionately impacts the health of minority and low-income residents of West Eugene. The complaint requests that U.S. EPA’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) invalidate the decision to increase pollutant discharges.
 
Seneca Sustainable Energy’s plant emits fine particulate matter, which is highly dangerous to human health. Exposure to fine particles can affect lung function and worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease, and increase the risk of premature death. Children’s asthma rates in the West Eugene area are almost twice the state average.
 
Residents of the surrounding neighborhoods are disproportionately likely to be minority and low-income (in comparison with other areas of Eugene). The nearby neighborhoods (Bethel-Danebo, Trainsong, and parts of River Road) are also overburdened with industrial pollution, making these residents disproportionately likely to suffer from health effects such as asthma.

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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