Sound and Fury: Biomass Incinerator Noise Riles Residents [The Biomass Monitor - November 2013]
THE BIOMASS MONITOR is the world's leading publication tracking the health and environmental impacts of "biomass" energy.

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

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


(November 2013 - Vol. 4, issue 11

Biomass Incinerator Noise a Nightmare to Neighbors

A “continuous roar.” Jet planes “revving” up for takeoff. Being on an “aircraft carrier during operations.” That’s how neighbors of the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center (GREC) describe the noise coming from the 100 megawatt biomass incinerator’s initial test runs.

Air pollution, climate disruption, forest degradation, and water consumption are the most obvious drawbacks of biomass incineration. Yet community members unlucky enough to live in close proximity to biomass power facilities must also endure wood dust, truck traffic, and — most distressingly — noise from the facility itself.

As a rash of taxpayer subsidized biomass incinerators spreads across the U.S., more and more communities — from Gainesville, Florida to Rothschild, Wiscosin — are literally waking up to this unbearable noise.

A "Report to the County Manager Regarding Noise" accompanied an inspection of the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center in September, noting “several sources of noise... of  different frequencies, duration and loudness.” These included the “truck/fuel unloading operation, the conveyor systems and reclaimer, the dust collectors, the deaerator vents, the  boiler, and  the  water  cooling  towers.” 

The inspection also described a “high pitched ‘squeaking’” from conveyor belts and a “low pitched   constant  ‘humming’” thought to be caused by... [READ MORE]

Victims of the Biomass Plant

 - by Judy Hooker

The city of Gainesville government isn't the intelligent, forward thinking group I would have imagined. Is it somehow cool to victimize an otherwise beautiful community for financial gain? People and wildlife alike will pay a huge price for your callous actions.

I am speaking of the Turkey Creek area that was selected for extinction by way of a biomass wood-burning plant. This plant sounds like a jet plane and looks like my idea of hell. But I don't think noise is the worst of many unwelcome gifts from this plant. As I sat on my porch recently, I was assaulted by a smell in the air. As I approached the front gate in my car later, I smelled the same odor again. Who is planning to monitor this monstrosity?

Most of the residents of Turkey Creek are seniors. I suspect that is why this particular site was chosen to erect something so controversial. Someone understood we came here to retire and enjoy nature and golf. They figured we wouldn't be inclined to fight for what was already promised us. We worked hard to earn the right to retire in a special place. We certainly wouldn't have chosen to live close to a biomass plant.

I challenge any of you who had any input in this project to put your life savings into a dream home in Turkey Creek, close to the noise and smoke you sanction for others. Of course that will not happen. You will choose to be far from what you would have us contend with. You have robbed us all of much of our enjoyment of retirement, apparently without conscience — and yes, we have been robbed! [READ MORE]

Tribes Targeted for Biomass Mess

 - by Leah Sue Dodge, Oneida Eye

Along with the push to sell Tribes dioxin-emitting incinerators of municipal solid waste, such as those promoted by Oneida Seven Generations Corporation, there is also a push to entangle Tribes – including the Oneida Tribe – in building biomass incinerators, but recent court decisions and scientific findings should cause every Tribe to avoid the biomess.

Recently a Federal Court appeals decision was handed down that said the EPA had no justification for allowing biomass incinerators to avoid accountability for their CO2 emissions... [READ MORE]


Bioenergy -- A Disaster for Biodiversity, Health and Human Rights

- by Rachel Smolker, Biofuelwatch

Since humans first learned to manipulate fire, people have used local biomass—including wood, other plant matter, and dried animal dung—for heat and for cooking. Billions of people continue to do so. But now, in addition to these traditional uses there is an unprecedented push for large-scale industrial/commercial bioenergy.

This new trend includes refining plant materials (corn, wheat and other grains,  sugarcane, soy and palm oil) to make liquid biofuels for transportation and burning plant materials (wood, agricultural residues, municipal waste, etc.) for heat and electricity.

Less widely known is the development of plant-based petroleum substitutes for  use in bioplastics, biochemicals,  inks, fabrics, pharmaceuticals, and other products. Proponents refer to a new “bioeconomy” featuring massive biorefineries that take in millions of tons of plant biomass and convert them into all manner of energy and material...

Open Letter on Biofuels in Committee on World Food Security

- by International Food Security and Nutrition Civil Society Mechanism

The artificial demand for biofuels is undermining the right to food, causing significant increases in food insecurity, malnutrition, and land-grabbing. The fast-­growing demand for biofuels is largely the result of direct and indirect subsidies, including mandatory blending quotas and targets, especially in the EU and the Americas.

We are deeply concerned that the recommendations in the current Committee on Food Security draft Decision Box would not protect the right to food from existing biofuels policies and the growing demand for biofuels. Instead, the text proposal refers to the alleged benefits of biofuels, which have not been shown to exist at any significant scale... [READ MORE]

Wood Bioenergy: Green Land Grabs for "Renewable" Energy

- by Global Forest Coalition and Biofuelwatch

At a meeting of the Convention on Biodiversity, Global Forest Coalition and Biofuelwatch launched a new report highlighting the impacts of expanding use of wood for generating industrial scale electricity and heat, especially in Europe and North America. Wood Bioenergy: Green Land Grabs for Renewable Energy, points to EU demand where both dedicated biomass facilities and conversion of coal plants to biomass are resulting in a new international trade in wood pellets.

Estimates are that the UK alone will burn pellets made from 82 million tonnes of wood, eight times the country’s total domestic wood production. Most pellets are now being imported from forests in the southern USA and British Columbia, Canada, but other regions are being eyed as potential future sources... [READ MORE]

From the Editor

by Rachel Smolker, Managing Editor

The November issue of The Biomass Monitor covers a lot of ground — from noisy facilities making communities uninhabitable, to targeting tribal lands for biomass, to escalating hunger resulting from the use of food (and land to grow it) for fuel. Land rights, access, and protection are the common denominators. 

Bioenergy requires massive areas of land compared to any other energy source, which is exactly why it is spurring land grabs around the globe. The International Land Coalition and GRAIN have worked to expose this, reporting that while liquid biofuels contribute only a paltry 3% of global transportation fuels, around 59% of land grabs between 2000 and 2010 were for the purpose of growing biofuel crops.

Some say using inedible biomass, wood for example, will alleviate problems. But wood requires land (and water) also. An IIED report titled “Biomass Energy: Another Driver of Land Acquisitions?” states: “As governments in the global North look to diversify their economies away from fossil fuel and mitigate climate change, plans for biomass energy are growing fast. These are fuelling a sharp rise in the demand for wood, which, for some countries, could outstrip domestic supply capacity by as much as 600 per cent.”

An EU Parliament report warned that countries regarded as potential future wood suppliers for Europe are precisely among those that have high levels of foreign private sector investment in land and little protection for communities faced with eviction. Conflicts over access to land are something that indigenous peoples in many places — and especially the tribes in the USA — are already well familiar with already.
Ask Congress to Curb Biomass Energy

Please take 5 minutes of your time to make phone calls to members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to voice your opposition to the latest piece of legislation that would open the door to dozens more air-polluting, climate-changing, water-fouling, forest-trashing biomass incinerators.

Like the forest legislation recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, Senator Ron Wyden’s framework would kick off a free-for-all logging fest in Oregon (and likely other western states) financed by your tax dollars, sold under the guise of unscientific “wildfire prevention” and phony “restoration.”

The biomass energy industry is dependent on getting its hands on more forests to feed more hungry incinerators, so let’s cut them off at the source!

Senator Ron Wyden (OR) - (202) 224-5244
Senator Maria Cantwell (WA) - (202) 224-3441 
Senator Tammy Baldwin (WI) - (202) 224-5653
Senator Martin Heinrich (NM) - (202) 224-5521
Senator Brian Schatz (HI) – (202) 224-3934
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