Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Williams College slates Oct. 28 public forum on Pownal, Vt., biomass project

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Williams College announced it has organized a panel discussion titled "The Pros and Cons of Burning Biomass for Electricity" to take place Thursday, Oct. 28, at 8 p.m. in Room 3 of Griffin Hall on the Williams campus. The event, free and open to the public, will be the first in a series at Williams to focus on these issues.

"The proposal to build a biomass plant in nearby Pownal has made many of us in the region wish we knew more about the issues involved in burning biomass to produce electricity," said panel moderator Jim Kolesar, assistant to the president for public affairs. "We've assembled panelists who aren't, or at least aren't yet, proponents or opponents of the Pownal project to help us think through the broader issues, drawing, as applicable, on some of the few facts known so far about this particular project."

The discussion will explore some of the complex issues surrounding biomass in the context of our national energy systems and alternatives; the implications for water use, the carbon cycle, and air quality; and the permitting process. The event is sponsored by the college's Center for Environmental Studies, Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives, and Office of Public Affairs.

The panelists will be Henry Art, the Rosenburg Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology; David Dethier, the Edward Brust Professor of Geology and Mineralogy; Geoff Hand, partner in the law firm of Shems Dunkiel Raubvogel & Saunders PLLC; and Richard Ney, head of the Eco-Management Services Division of the environmental consulting firm Sebesta Blomberg & Associates.

Art has taught at Williams since 1970 and played key roles in many local environmental organizations, including the Williamstown Conservation Committee, Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation, and Williamstown Recycling Committee. Nationally, he has served as an evaluator of the National Park Service's Natural Landmarks Program and has received several grants from the National Science Foundation. At Williams he teaches courses in environmental biology and environmental studies.

Dethier has served as chair of the geosciences department and as director of the college's Science Center and its Hopkins Memorial Forest. His research interests include the geochemistry and hydrology of surface and ground water systems, and sustainable sources of energy and their environmental impacts. Before coming to Williams in 1982, he worked as a geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey and the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

As a lawyer, Hand has worked both for and against biomass projects. His practice focuses primarily on state and federal environmental litigation, renewable energy development, and land-use law. He has handled a range of permitting issues for numerous commercial-scale renewable energy projects in Vermont and has litigated cases before Vermont's Environmental Court, Public Service Board, and Supreme Court, as well as in federal courts across the United States.

Ney provides environmental consulting services to industrial clients on matters that include air quality permitting, the modeling of air pollutant dispersion, and the determination of best available and maximum achievable control technologies. He has evaluated control options for standard-criteria pollutants and toxic air pollutants, and has worked extensively on the quantification of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration.

SOURCE: Williams College News Office


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2:17 PM  

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