THE BIOMASS MONITOR  monthly newsletter is the only publication in the U.S. covering the impacts from industrial-scale "biomass" energy.

Managing Editors - Rachel Smolker and Mike Ewall
Editor & Journalist - Josh Schlossberg

October 2012

Medical Doctors Brief Congress on Biomass Energy Health Hazards

Three medical doctors and a scientist presented the first-ever Congressional briefing on the health hazards of biomass incineration in the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C. on September 25, 2012. The briefing was arranged and sponsored by Save America's Forests.

Pediatricians William Sammons, M.D. of Massachusetts and Norma Kreilein, M.D.  of Indiana, William Blackley, M.D. of North Carolina, and Rachel Smolker, Ph.D.,  co-director of  Biofuelwatch, educated the attending staff of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on the toxic... READ MORE

Lung cancer
Bronchogenic Carcinoma, aka lung cancer (Chapel Hill School of Medicine)          

New Report Slams "Sustainable" Biomass Energy

Biomass energy is not sustainable at an industrial scale, according to a new report by Biofuelwatch, an international organization based in the US and United Kingdom (UK). Sustainable Biomass: A Modern Myth, sounds the warning bell on trends that would make the UK the world’s largest consumer of biomass electricity, along with the inevitable impacts on the climate, forests, public health, and human rights.

The first-of-its-kind report dissects “sustainability standards” being proposed... READ MORE

Southern Forests Felled for UK Biomass Incinerators

- by Scot Quaranda, Dogwood Alliance

Utility companies have been devising schemes to burn large amounts of wood from Southern forests for electricity.  Recently, there has been an alarming increase in wood from our forests turned into pellets which are then shipped to Europe and burned for electricity by big utility companies to meet short sighted EU climate requirements. Currently there are 25 operational export pellet mills in the region with approximately 15 more planned across the South. 

Essentially, we are destroying our Southern forests so Europe can burn them to meet its climate goals, which are based on the mistaken blanket assumption that biomass energy is carbon neutral... READ MORE

Carbon Accounting Errors Skew Burlington, Vermont's Climate Plan

The City of Burlington, Vermont’s Draft Climate Action Plan reports only a fraction of the carbon dioxide (CO2) smokestack emissions from the McNeil Generating Station—a 50 megawatt biomass incinerator supplying roughly one-third of the city’s electricity—hindering the city’s efforts to accurately measure and reduce its carbon footprint.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculates McNeil’s CO2 emissions alone at 444,646 tons per year yet the Burlington Plan reports the entire City of Burlington’s emissions for 2007, from all sources, at 397,272.4 tons. Critics contend that the inaccurate carbon accounting invalidates... READ MORE


Are Pro-Logging Green Groups Hurting Anti-Biomass Movement?

- by George Wuerthner

It seems more and more there are fewer conservation organizations who speak for the forest, and more that speak for the timber industry. Many conservation groups have uncritically adopted views that support more logging of our public lands based upon increasingly disputed ideas about forest health, fire ecology as well as age-old bias against natural processes like wildfire and beetles. 

I tend to believe that their support for logging represents a failure to challenge many of the flawed assumptions that are guiding federal logging programs and in some cases even repeating many of the same pejorative language helps to undermine in the long term conservation efforts. After all if the public believes our forests are sick and unhealthy; that logging will cure them; that logging... READ MORE

Beyond Burning: Harnessing Energy Created By Our Bodies

- by

Kinetic energy is formed whenever we move around. Harnessing that power by various forms of technology allows that energy to be transformed into electrical power and used for a number of applications. It is happening at this very time in various locations and in many ways.

From soldiers with specially fitted backpacks to bras, phones, and other applications to gather kinetic energy, our daily activities can possibly create enough power to run the appliances and lights around us... READ MORE


From the Editor

- by Rachel Smolker, Managing Editor

European utility Drax’s plans to convert its massive UK facility from coal to wood. Doing so would require harvesting an area four times the size Rhode Island each year. Much of that wood is supposed to come from tree plantations in the southeastern US where, as reported by Dogwood Alliance, new pellet plants are popping up all over.

Rather than just saying "NO," the response from many governments and big enviro organizations is to refer the problem to the "certification industry." That hardly inspires confidence, as the new report from Biofuelwatch details, while cities like Burlington, Vermont undermine their own climate initiatives by pretending that biomass burning releases no carbon. There is, however, potential to gain traction with US policymakers on the health impacts from incinerator emissions, the topic of a recent Congressional briefing.. READ MORE

Biomass Buster of the Month

Scot Quaranda -- North Carolina

“Absolutely ludicrous.” That’s how North Carolina’s Scot Quaranda describes the recent bioenergy boom as an attempt to reduce greenhouse gases. “Why would we burn forests, our best protection from climate change, as a way to fight the climate crisis?” As campaign director for Dogwood Alliance, a forest protection organization focused on the southern US, Scot has found himself at ground zero for an unprecedented conversion of forests into wood pellets to be shipped overseas to feed massive European biomass incinerators.

Scot and other biomass opponents are facing this challenge head on by launching a campaign “to take on the biggest utilities in the US and in Europe” seeking to torch more trees for electricity. “The more we become united as environmental and community groups in our opposition,” Scot says, “the better chance we have to stop this before it’s too late.”

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