Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A brief review of attempts to build biomass plants in Western Massachusetts. What can we learn from this?

Susan Dunn writes:
I just heard on NPR that there is going to be the exact same kind of Biomass woodburning plant in Springfield as the one proposed in Pownal, and that the head of the 
Massachusetts Environmental Agency declined to do a full environmental review. And Springfield residents already seem to have a disproportionate number of asthma patients. It's totally outrageous.  Here's the story on WFCR:
Below, some articles on the Springfield proposal, and others in the region, taken from the above WFCR website.  Note the dates and the progression of community activism throughout the last two years on this issue.  Also note that the media, especially radio and the newspapers, have followed this issue closely.  We should work to get the same media attention in our region.  Finally, note the role being played by local and state officials and the MA legislature and governor.
Residents to Sue State Over Environmental Impact of Proposed Greenfield Biomass Plant
(wfcr) - A group of Franklin County residents are planning to sue the state, over its failure to require a proposed biomass plant in Greenfield to file an environmental impact report. WFCR's Tina Antolini reports. © Copyright 2010, wfcr
Biomass Plant Opposed in Greenfield 
(wfcr) - An industrial company in Greenfield, Massachusetts is planning to fight a proposal to build a biomass plant in town. WFCR Intern Adam Alfandary reports. © Copyright 2010, wfcr
Sorting the "Grassroots" from the "Astroturf" with Biomass Citizens Groups
(wfcr) - Some grassroots groups may have their roots elsewhere... A Boston Globe report this week revealed that a community group that's been organizing in support of a proposed biomass power plant in Russell, Massachusetts was founded with the help of a consulting firm hired by the plant's developer. Russell First is made up of local residents, but Globe environmental reporter Beth Daley told WFCR's Tina Antolini she noticed something that struck her as a little out of the ordinary, when reporting more generally about the pros and cons of Russell Biomass.

To read Beth Daley's report "Power Plant Developer Financed Citizen's Group Activity," go here:

© Copyright 2010, wfcr
Focus: Western New England: Biomass Energy
(wfcr) - Who isn't in search of clean, cheap energy? Policy makers, residents and investors around the region are, and they are taking a close look at biomass energy, that is, burning low-grade wood or other plant materials for high-tech electricity generation.

There are three large-scale biomass plants proposed for western Massachusetts, in Springfield, Greenfield, and Russell. Together they could provide electricity for as many as 135,000 homes, help the state meet goals for renewable energy, and create jobs. But they could also change the character of the region's woodlands, send numerous trucks through residential neighborhoods and emit toxins into the air. And there is little consensus on just how "renewable" the resource is. These are some of the questions about biomass we'll explore in this half hour of Focus Western New England.
© Copyright 2010, wfcr
Biomass Studies and Opposition
(wfcr) - Several studies commissioned by the Mayor of Greenfield, Massachusetts have turned out a positive review for a proposed biomass power plant in the Franklin County seat. But, as WFCR's Tina Antolini reports, the plant's opponents say a new international study adds fuel to their concerns. © Copyright 2010, wfcr
Biomass Hearing
(wfcr) - A Massachusetts legislative committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing on a proposal that would ban the use of construction and demolition debris in wood burning power plants. WFCR's Kari Njiiri reports. © Copyright 2010, wfcr
Coalition Opposing Biomass
(wfcr) - A coalition of groups opposed to biomass plants says they have gathered enough signatures to place a question on next November's Massachusetts state ballot.
WFCR's Helen Barrington reports.
© Copyright 2010, wfcr
Incentives on Hold; Biomass Study Underway
(wfcr) - The administration of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has put on hold consideration of financial incentives for biomass. WFCR's Fred Bever reports on a development that could affect the viability of biomass generators planned in Greenfield and Russell. © Copyright 2010, wfcr
Biomass Rally in Springfield
(wfcr) - An Earth Day rally to mobilize efforts against a proposed biomass incinerator in Springfield has been held on the steps of City Hall. WFCR's Kari Njiiri reports the rally follows a decision by a City Council committee to oppose the project. © Copyright 2010, wfcr
MA Legislature and Biomass Incentives
(wfcr) - The Massachusetts legislature has taken a pass on a bill that would make it more difficult for developers of biomass or waste-to-energy power plants to qualify for financial incentives the state provides for renewable energy. WFCR's Sarah Danson reports. © Copyright 2010, wfcr
Study Calls Biomass Energy Into Question
(wfcr) - A new study commissioned by the administration of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick may deal a blow to plans to build several biomass energy plants in western Massachusetts... and even around the country. The study found that burning wood solely to create electricity could add more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than natural gas and coal-fired plants. WFCR's Peter Moskowitz reports. © Copyright 2010, wfcr
Biomass Fight Hits Mass. Statehouse
(wfcr) - Several Bay State environmental groups are supporting a legislative alternative to a proposed November ballot question that would curtail emissions from biomass plants. But supporters of burning wood to make electricity say either option will hurt this region's economy. WFCR's Fred Bever reports. © Copyright 2010, wfcr
Biomass Opponents Withdraw Ballot Question
(wfcr) - Activists have pulled a ballot question targeting wood-burning power plants after Massachusetts officials moved to place new limits on these biomass energy facilities. The state will now set higher standards for the plants to obtain renewable energy certificates. The change follows the release of a study last month. WFCR's Helen Barrington has more. © Copyright 2010, wfcr
Springfield Incinerator Moves Forward
(wfcr) -
A wood-burning energy plant proposed for Springfield will not be subject to a full-fledged environmental review, the state's top regulator has ruled. WFCR's Fred Bever reports.
© Copyright 2010, wfcr
See this website by Stop Toxic Incineration in Springfield, a grassroots organization dedicated to stopping the proposed biomass incinerator in Springfield MA..  
http://www.springfieldincinerator.info/  .    Here is an excerpt from that site:  "What they [the biomass developers] are saying here is, although EPA is going to start regulating CO2 as a pollutant, and even biogenic CO2, they are going to evade this because they plan on starting construction before the EPA implementation date {July 2011].  Obviously Epsilon Associates needs to fast-track their incineration proposal to make it happen. . . .In addition, their proposal claims this incinerator will be carbon-neutral because it will use nonforest wood material. This woody biomass, however, is already claimed by other users.  If they take away this woody biomass from current users, more trees will have to be cut to ensure the current supply. So how can this incinerator call itself carbon-neutral if it will harm our forest resources and landscape by ultimately requiring the cutting of forest land, as the Manomet Study has already made clear.  And what happens when there is no longer enough woody biomass?  Biomass plants in NH are now suing each other over dwindling wood reserves, and most "wood chip" biomass plants in Maine have converted to construction and demolition incinerators because of low fuel stock.  Shouldn't we expect the same to happen in Springfield?" 


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