December 2014
Volume 5, Issue 9

Biomass Energy: Clean is the New Dirty
(December 2014)

Ten Things You Need to Know if You Burn Wood

- by Josh Schlossberg, The Biomass Monitor

Wood heating is on the rise. 2.7 million U.S. households, making up roughly 2% of the population, are projected to burn wood as a primary heating source over the winter of 2014-2015, a 3.9% increase from the previous year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Approximately 7.7% of households use a wood or pellet stove as a secondary heating source, based on 2012 census data.

In every state except for the balmy locales of Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Hawaii, wood heating has increased over the last decade, largely due to lower costs in comparison to oil and local sourcing opportunities.


Despite some recent advances in stove technology, wood heating still involves combustion, a process that emits air pollutants that have been linked to various health concerns. With the recent uptick in residential and industrial wood burning, it's in the public's best interest to be mindful of the risks that come from stoking up the stove.


Biomass Incinerator a Threat to Children

- by Norma Kreilein, MD, Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics

(The biomass facility proposed for Jasper, Indiana referred to in this letter was canceled this year thanks to the hard work of Dr. Kreilein and Healthy Dubois County. -Ed)

I am writing as a concerned pediatrician in Southern Indiana. We live in the heart of the power plant belt of the Midwest. For many years I have suspected that our local pollution is greatly responsible for our high rage of inflammatory processes, malignancies, and increasing rates of autism.


I have been trying to fight the addition of a biomass plant to our city. The city has long been an industrial base with many wood factories, so there has apparently been a high VOC load. In addition, we live near many power plants. There was a coal fired municipal power plant within the city limits and very near a residential neighborhod since 1968. The city has said that the plant has been scuttled for approximately the past 3 years because it isn't "profitable."

Strong opposition was voiced from the time it was publicly mentioned, but the city has pushed the plant through, anyway. Much manipulation of emission data has occurred (averaging emissions out over the whole county to make them appear insignificant), but ironically one of the more interesting arguments is that the plant, though polluting and within 1/2 mile of a residential neighborhood, should nonetheless be built because the plant will decrease our dependence on coal fired plants.


I Can't Breathe: Air Pollution Worse for Communities of Color

- by Brentin Mock, Grist

In North Carolina, scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency have found a "stable and negative association" between poor birth outcomes among women and their exposure to air pollution. That's pretty much common knowledge, if not common sense, no matter what state or country you look at. But the EPA scientists also noted that "more socially disadvantaged populations are at a greater risk," even when subjected to the same levels of air pollutants.

Translation: If you have the misfortune of being born poor and black in North Carolina, you're more likely to arrive in this world underweight and undernourished, on top of being underprivileged. Polluted air only makes your situation worse.


The study, published in the January 2014 Journal of Environmental Health, covered women who gave birth between 2002 and 2006 across the entire state. It was built upon a catalog of previous surveys that have found "significant and persistent racial and socioeconomic" disparities for poor birth outcomes like infant mortality, low birth weight, and premature births. Throw air pollution into the mix--particulate matter and ozone, which the EPA researchers measured in the study--and the disparities deepen.


The Biomass Monitor is the nation's leading publication tracking the health and environmental impacts of bioenergy. We are accepting submissions at thebiomassmonitor AT


Josh Schlossberg, Mike Ewall, and Samantha Chirillo

Editors, The Biomass Monitor

Back issues and blog:





- by Josh Schlossberg, Editor

First, the good news:  People might start waking up to the fact that biomass energy pollutes every bit as much as dirty fossil fuels. Now, the bad news: That's because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has basically given a green light to a potentially massive onslaught of biomass incineration, thanks to the agency's political and unscientific refusal to properly account for the carbon dioxide emitted from facility smokestacks.

There's a disconnect in American politics where our leaders simultaneously claim to value health--even acknowledging the economic impacts of illness--while continuing to push forward disease-causing dirty energy proposals.

In the December issue of The Biomass Monitor, we remind people that as ObamaCare results in increased health coverage for Americans, the administration's push for dirty bioenergy has condemned more children, more people of color, and more of the elderly to cancer and lung disease from the particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, and other toxic pollutants emitted from the smokestacks of  biomass incinerators.



Top 10 Biomass Stories in the News

Follow The Biomass Monitor on Facebook and Twitter for breaking biomass news.

Commissioners Scrap Frederick, MD Incinerator Plan

2. Tree, Tire and Gas-Burning Incinerator Proposed for Michigan's Upper Peninsula

3. Biofuel Company Files for Bankruptcy

4. 50-Megawatt Biomass Incinerator Completed in Woodville, Texas

5. Indiana Ethanol Facility Fined $9,600 for Clean Air Act Violations

6. Bioenergy Corporation to Cut and Burn Public Forests in Washington

7. Tanker Truck Collapses, Spills Ethanol in Kenilworth, NJ

8. Biomass Energy Drives Wood Shortage in Nova Scotia

9. UMaine to Study "Trashanol" Effect in Maine 

10. Bioenergy Pipelines?

Please Donate
to   The Biomass Monitor

The Biomass Monitor is one-stop-shopping for keeping up to date on the latest facility proposals, grassroots community resistance, helpful scientific studies, and media stories, providing exclusive, investigative reporting on nearly every aspect of biomass energy.

If you're concerned about the proliferation of bioenergy and dismayed by the lack of public awareness on the topic, consider making a one time, tax-deductible donation of $10-$100 to The Biomass Monitor, so we can continue to report on the health and environmental impacts of this controversial energy source.