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

A publication of Energy Justice Network, Biofuelwatch, and Florida League of Conservation Voters.

Lungs, Lawsuits & Invasives (Oh My!)

(November/December 2012)


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The Biomass Monitor is the only newsletter in the U.S. reporting exclusively on the impacts to public health, climate, forests, watersheds, and communities from industrial-scale “biomass” energy. However, without ongoing funding, the days of this unique publication—the official newsletter of the national Anti-Biomass Incineration campaign—are numbered.

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EPA Sued for Ignoring Paper Mill CO2 Emissions

Massive emissions of greenhouse gases in the form of carbon dioxide make biomass and coal burning facilities major contributors to climate change. Yet one large source of climate pollution that’s been flying under the radar has been pulp and paper mills—until now.

A lawsuit against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched by the Center for Biological Diversity,Greenpeace, and Port Townsend AirWatchers could force new pulp and paper mills—and possibly even existing facilities—to cut back on their carbon dioxide emissions or shut down. The US is the world’s largest consumer of paper products, according to a Center for Biological Diversity fact sheet. The pulp and paper industry is the nation’s 3rd largest consumer of energy, after the petroleum and chemical industries, emitting 57.7 MMT CO2 eq (million metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent) in 2004.

The first-of-its-kind lawsuit demands that the EPA abide by Section 111 of the Clean Air Act, which requires the EPA to review... READ MORE

International Paper's Ticonderoga, NY paper mill (Photo:      


Biomass Profiteering Trumps Children's Health in Rothschild, Wisconsin

For many people, nothing typifies the American Dream more than buying a house in a small town to start a family. Five years ago school teacher Robert Hughes and his wife purchased a home in Rothschild, Wisconsin, population 5,000, and had two children, now three years and three months old. Today, the Hughes’ dream is about to literally go up in smoke with a biomass power incinerator under construction directly across the street, a facility that would add more asthma-causing particulate matter and carcinogenic volatile organic compounds to the air per unit of energy than a coal plant.

The Hughes family, their neighbors, and many Rothschild residents fear for their health and the health of their children——the incinerator is a half mile from a 2,600 student elementary school—as the 50 megawatt Domtar and WE Energies wood-burning power facility comes closer to completion. Developers aim to have the incinerator operational by the middle of 2013, smack dab in the middle of this low income and middle class community.

When Hughes first heard about the proposal back in 2010 he decided to investigate... READ MORE


Report Predicts Bioenergy Crop Invasion

A new report released by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) details yet another in a long and growing list of ecological and economic threats from industrial-scale biomass energy: the risk of bioenergy crops becoming invasive species. Growing Risk: Addressing the Invasive Potential of Bioenergy Feedstocks discusses the negative impacts on the environment and the economy that are likely to result from the cultivation of certain plant and tree species to supply an expansion of biomass electricity and transportation fuels in the US.

Air pollution, carbon dioxide emissions and forest degradation have been front and center in the debate about whether or not to expand our nation’s utilization of industrial scale biomass energy—already making up nearly half of the nation’s “renewable” energy (electricity and heat) supply. A new blip on the radar is a partnership between the biomass industry and federal and state governments to plant millions upon millions of acres of bioenergy crops, including Miscanthus grass, Giant cane, and genetically engineered eucalyptus trees, which could result... READ MORE

The Bio-massacre Marches On

- by Jeff Gibbs

In November,  a ballot proposal known as "25 x 25" -- renewable energy with a huge dose of biomass burning -- was defeated soundly in Michigan with only 37 percent voting in favor. Of the six ballot proposals in Michigan, only one fared worse. In Grand Traverse County, where I live, and where citizens recently had become well informed about, and rejected, a biomass plant, only 29 percent voted for "25 x 25."

While "25 x 25" was no doubt undone by the overreach of being a constitutional amendment, I am sure the presence of the word "biomass" did not help. I was not the only one to question what logging and burning trees was doing in a green energy proposal. I suspect that designers of the "25 x 25" campaign understood that the presence of "biomass" in the definition of green energy was a problem and that is why they showed the public only images of solar panels and windmills. I believe they were correct. When citizens with no vested interest research the reality of biomass burning they reject it, even despite furious promotional campaigns.

Since I posted what I learned about biomass burning and "25 x 25" , there was been quite a response. I will take claims from paid professional environmentalists that I have exaggerated the amount of biomass burning as an admission... READ MORE


Beyond Burning: Solar Energy With A Magnifying Glass?

- by Amplified Green

Solar energy is child’s play. Just use a magnifying glass in the sun and you’re generating energy in a jiffy. It’s what scientists at IBM are doing. They’ve launched what they claim to be breakthrough solar energy which is among the cheapest solar solutions around. The scientists say they create five times more energy by concentrating the sun’s power through a lens. One square centimeter of solar cell produces as much as 230 watts of energy, the most ever in solar techology.

Having only just pioneered the technology, IBM says it will now focus on commercializing it at an installation cost of less than two dollars per watt. The company believes that it should be possible to produce systems even cheaper than that... READ MORE

From the Editor

by Rachel Smolker, Managing Editor

As this issue is going to press, the latest round of climate negotiations in Doha, Qatar is closing with a resounding thud. For the climate justice movement, this is welcomed by many, since the first phase of Kyoto brought little emissions reductions and instead delivered a vastly expanded biomass industry (especially in Europe where it was adopted to supposedly meet Kyoto commitments) along with failed carbon marketing approaches. Faith in the United Nations process has dwindled.

But don’t count on big environmental organizations either: As Jeff Gibbs' article illustrates, some big enviro groups insist on endorsing the misleading "25 x 25" platform even though citizens know full well they do not want to burn trees for energy. Part of the sad saga of the Rothschild, Wisconsin facility included an endorsement by the Sierra Club. And NRDC, while featuring an "Our Forests Aren't Fuel" video, is meanwhile cheering for military biofuels and played a key role in promoting Hawaii Electric Co’s plans to burn forest-destroying palm oil. 

The communities and organizers at the grassroots who speak truth to power remain our best last hope.

Biomass Buster of the Month

Jeff Gibbs -- Michigan

Biomass incineration is “the worst threat to the planet of all,” says Michigan native and Traverse City resident Jeff Gibbs.

When a biomass incinerator was proposed for his town in 2010, Jeff “couldn't believe that turning to our troubled forests for energy to power our lifestyles was being contemplated.” The hue and cry raised by Jeff and other Traverse City residents—with “95% of the community” opposing the facility—helped force its cancelation.

Jeff continues to expose the “biomassacre” through his articles and videography, insisting that those “pushing for renewable energy [be] forced to take biomass and biofuels out” of the equation, or they will unleash “an unstoppable force of destruction.”  Jeff believes biomass is “a test of those of us who say we care about the planet whether we mean it or not, and whether there is ever to be an environmental movement again.”

Please Donate Today

The Biomass Monitor is the only newsletter in the U.S. reporting exclusively on the impacts of biomass energy. However, without ongoing funding, the days of this unique publication are numbered. Please CLICK HERE to make a tax-deductible donation and help us keep getting our message out to thousands of readers!
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