If you experience difficulty viewing this message, you can view it online here.

February 2011 - Volume 2, Issue 2

BIOMASS BUSTERS is a project of the Biomass Accountability Project, Energy Justice Network, Biofuelwatch, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, and Save America's Forests.

Co-Managing Editor, Meg Sheehan
Co-Managing Editor, Rachel Smolker
Editor & Journalist, Josh Schlossberg

For submissions, feedback, PDF copies, or to become a distributor please contact us at biomassbusters [at] gmail.com or find us on Facebook.

In This Issue
From the Editor
State Lines
From the Forest
Our Health
Take Action!
Legislation Watch
Biomass Buster of the Month
Trashing the Climate
From the Editor

Rachel Smolker, Co-Managing Editor

The movement that has grown in opposition to biomass incinerators has grown so strong, and so fast, that it is getting hard to keep up! A few days ago, an old time climate activist friend remarked with some envy: "this biomass issue seems to be the place where the REAL organizing is going on lately, with people pulling together from the grassroots up!"

With things looking bleak on so many other fronts, we definitely need to treasure our successes and acknowledge our movers and shakers. Just some examples from our grassroots: Cara Beth Jones from Concerned Citizens of Crawford County and Pat Berna from Concerned Citizens of Scott County have been key in opposing Liberty Green Renewables' plans for biomass power in Indiana! 

Their efforts are supported along the way with help from some of our legal experts: Meg Sheehan and Mick Harrison, and those in the medical professions, like Bill Sammons. We have a truly awesome community of dedicated and skilled people--a bright spot on the landscape of environmental activism! Read on for more!

CORRECTION: January 2011 issue should have credited Janine Gates, www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com, as a source for 'Biomass Moratorium in Washington.'

State Lines

Oregon Paper Mill Won't Burn Biomass
(source: Albany Democrat-Herald, Jan. 7, 2011)

A proposal by Adage--a joint venture with nuclear power producer Areva and Duke Energy--to convert a closed International Paper mill in Millersburg, Oregon into a biomass power incinerator has fizzled. 

Adage reportedly has plans to build five more biomass power incinerators in the U.S., including a 50-megawatt facility in Mason County, Washington. 

In March, citizen backlash against a proposed 55-megawatt biomass power incinerator in Gretna, Florida caused Adage to cancel the project.

Anti-Biomass Coalition to Lobby D.C.

Biomass Accountability Project has organized a panel of medical, scientific and financial experts for a Congressional briefing in February to educate lawmakers on the negative health, climate, and economic impacts of biomass power incineration. 

Massachusetts environmental attorney Meg Sheehan will discuss the financial impacts of tax subsidies for biomass power and Dr. Mary Booth, also of Massachusetts, will demonstrate potential climate impacts from logging forests for biomass.

New Hampshire Incinerator Fined
(source: Nashua Telegraph. Dec. 22, 2010)

The 50-megawatt Northern Wood Power Project at Schiller Station in Portsmouth, New Hampshire was fined $53,000 for emission above lawful levels of pollutants for particulate matter, measured on September 11, 2008.

Northern Wood Power Project, one of the largest biomass power incinerators in New England, was converted from a coal-fired boiler to a "fluidized bed boiler" that can burn forest biomass or coal. 

The state permit allows for 7.2 pounds per hour emission of particulate matter less than 10 microns in diameter, also known as PM 10. The permit does not measure the amount of PM 2.5, 1/20 the width of a human hair. 

Studies from the American Cancer Society demonstrate that there is no safe level of exposure to particulate matter.

Robot Eats Trees for Electricity

(source: 2nd Green Revolution. Dec. 19, 2010) 

The Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot System (EATR) eats wood chips, dried leaves and other vegetation and is being tested at the University of Maryland.

Funding for EATR comes from the federal government's Defense Advance Research Projects Agency.

From the Forest

Biomass Half of "Renewable" Energy

December 29, 2010  Biomass and biofuels make up 51.95% of "renewable" energy sources in the U.S., according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's Monthly Energy Review

Renewable energy in the U.S. accounts for 10.18% of electrical generation in the first three quarters of 2010. After biomass and biofuels, hydropower was 31.5%, wind 10.52%, geothermal 4.65%, and solar 1.38%. 

Currently, fossil fuels provide 78% of U.S. energy while 11.4 % is from nuclear power. 

Comparing the first three quarters of 2010 to the first three quarters of 2009, biomass and biofuels expanded by 10%, geothermal by 1.8%, solar by 2.4%, and wind by 26.7%, while hydropower declined by 5.2%.

Ohio to Clearcut 1 Million Acres for Biomass Power Incineration

December 20, 2010  American Electric Power (AEP), one of the nation's largest power companies, claims that a 200-megawatt biomass power incinerator--operating at 70% capacity or 140-megawatts--would require 510,000 to 730,000 acres worth of forest clearcuts on 40 year rotations. 

AEP Ohio plans to generate 150-megawatts of biomass energy by 2018 and 238-megawatts by 2027.

Ohio has 7.9 million acres of forestland, 952,500 publicly owned, according to Nathan Johnson, staff attorney for the Buckeye Forest Council. AEP's desired 238-megawatts of biomass power would require 1,240,932 acres of 40 year clearcut rotations--1/6 of all forestland in Ohio.

AEP's Long Term Forecast Report to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio admits "possible drawbacks" to biomass power incineration and co-firing with coal include "reduced plant efficiencies due to lower energy content fuels" and "volatile costs of transportation." 

The report states that "biomass has many competing demands, such as the pulp and paper markets, agricultural industries and the ethanol market, which can dramatically escalate the market price for the material."

Our Health

American Lung Association Worried About Biomass Incineration

[Below are excerpts from a Dec. 14, 2010 letter by Rebecca L. Ryan, Director of Health Promotion and Public Policy for American Lung Association in Vermont, to the Vermont State Legislature's Biomass Energy Development Working Group.]

Burning wood, like burning any substance, releases toxic chemicals and particles which affect the environment and respiratory health. In particular, biomass emissions contain fine particulate matter, sulfur oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and various irritant gases such as nitrogen oxides that can scar the lungs. Like cigarettes, biomass emissions can also contain chemicals that are known or suspected to be carcinogens, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and dioxin. 

For vulnerable populations, such as people with asthma, chronic respiratory disease, and those with cardiovascular disease, biomass emissions are particularly harmful. Even short exposures can prove deadly. A growing number of studies are pointing to the direct impact of increased particle pollution levels and an increase in heart attacks. The health impact of particle pollution is not limited to individuals with pre-existing conditions.

The ALA believes that we cannot afford to trade our health to meet our energy needs. We strongly support rapid movement towards clean, safe and renewable energy to protect our environment and the air we breathe.

Take Action!

Write a letter to the editor to your local newspaper expressing concern that biomass power incineration--which has greater smokestack emissions than coal--is being given a three year pass and urging the EPA to protect carbon-storing forests by accounting for CO2 emissions from biomass incinerators.

Legislation Watch

EPA Defers Biomass Permitting and Launches Study

January 12, 2011  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will defer for three years greenhouse gas permitting requirements for carbon dioxide emissions from biomass power incineration, while conducting an "independent scientific analysis" on whether or not biomass incineration is carbon neutral, according to an EPA press release. 

"In the coming years we will develop a commonsense approach that protects our environment and encourages the use of clean energy," said EPA administrator Lisa Jackson.

"EPA has sound scientific grounds for challenging the conventional and scientifically unsupported view of biomass as carbon-neutral," said Meg Sheehan, of Biomass Accountability Project. "We trust that the agency is setting a new course that will close the 'biomass loophole.'"

Biomass Buster of the Month

Rachel Smolker -- Hinesburg, Vermont

Dr. Rachel Smolker of Biofuelwatch is one of the leading figures in the anti-biomass incineration movement. Rachel is lead author of The Real Cost of Agrofuels: Impacts on Food, Forests, People and Climate, a contributor to The New Biomassters (with ETC Group), and has contributed to numerous other reports, briefings and articles on bioenergy. 

Rachel travels around the United States and the world to talk on issues of forest preservation, climate protection and environmental justice.

Trashing the Climate

Waste and Injustice
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA)

No community is disposable. Yet most incinerator and landfills are disproportionately sited in marginalized communities--violating the principles of environmental justice.

People of color and minority communities, people of low socioeconomic status, indigenous communities and nations, people in the global south and other populations that often lack political and economic power are inequitably burdened with pollution from incinerators and dumps.


Because of this, GAIA's leadership understands that we will never win unless we see our specific mission as inseparable from those of other movements for social and environmental justice.


Solar Hot Water
John Patterson

While most people are captivated by the high-tech nature of solar-electric (photovoltaic; PV) systems, in most cases, a solar hot water system will harvest more energy at a substantially lower cost. In fact, compared to PVs, solar hot water (SHW) collectors are more than three times as efficient at producing energy from the sun.

Investing in an SHW system is a smart solar solution for most homeowners. This proven and reliable technology offers long-term performance with low maintenance. And with federal, state, and utility incentives available, these systems offer a quick payback--in some cases, only four to eight years.

A thoughtfully designed SHW system could provide all, or at least a significant amount, of your household hot water needs for some portion of the year.

This newsletter is brought to you by Biomass Busters.
To contact us, email: biomassbusters@gmail.com.
Click to invite a friend to receive our eNewsletter

Click to unsubscribe