Howdy, The letters below are worth the read. It presents a variety of concerns regarding the proposed Gainesville biomass plant. -- Jacque ps: ElectricalMessage 1 of 1 , Apr 6, 2010View SourceHowdy,The letters below are worth the read. It presents a variety of concerns regarding the proposed Gainesville biomass plant. -- Jacqueps: Electrical energy represents about 23% of our energy needs. (Transportation energy demands far exceed electrical energy demand). Most of our home energy needs can be met using smarter matching of end-use to generation. (Solar panels for lights, fans, smart house and landscaping design, etc.) The wise investment must include reducing our need on energy that goes out long distane over the grid. The grid loses about 35% of the energy in the transportation process. Retrofitting homes, weatherization, thermal draperies, are just a few of the conservation practices government COULD help implent. People should be able to control the means of production of their energy needs close to home. These BIG, centralized facilities are dangerous!If people are so hellbent on burning forest materials, the better "bang" would be to buy every household in Alachua County a wood stove and have people purchase the wood directly. And, remember, some of the forest debris after cutting needs to stay in place to rejuvenate the soil. Small is beautiful. Big, centralized facilities, are so so last century!--My 2c JacqueThe Gainesville Sun - April 6
No position taken
I would like to clarify a statement made by Karen Orr, chairwoman of the Energy Justice Network, in her March 29 letter ("Why physicians are against biomass energy").
Orr stated the American Lung Association of the Southeast opposes biomass plants. We have not taken a formal position on biomass plants. We do, however, have concerns about increasing sources of air pollution from energy production, including biomass, as it relates the potential effects it poses for at-risk groups like those suffering from emphysema, asthma, diabetes and heart disease.
Burning wood, or any substance, releases toxic chemicals and particles into the air, affecting both the environment and respiratory health.
Additionally, we are concerned about the diesel equipment critical to plant operations and the trucks delivering the fuel source. These can add significant pollution on the roads and throughout nearby communities.
Although we have concerns about these new energy sources adding to air pollution, we are even more concerned about the older plants that do not use the best available technology to capture toxic emissions. The American Lung Association works hard for more stringent regulations.
Brenda Olsen, RN
Chief Operating Officer
American Lung Association
of the Southeast, Inc.
The Tallahassee Democrat
Frank Holcomb’s Op-Ed misrepresents American Lung Assocaition’s position on Biomass Incinerators
Attached is the Lung Association’s response to today’s op-ed on the proposed biomass plant in Gadsden County. The op-ed misrepresented our position and we would like to make sure the public hears from us directly. Thanks for your consideration.
“As the Chief Operating Officer for the American Lung Association in Florida, I would like to clarify a statement made in Frank Holcomb’s recent editorial on the proposed biomass plant in Gadsden County. In his piece, he mentioned a position by the Clean Air Choice group within the American Lung Association that could be viewed as an endorsement of biomass energy. The information Mr. Holcomb cited was pulled from a website in Illinois and is not the position of the American Lung Association in Florida on the subject.
The American Lung Association has significant concerns regarding the proposed biomass plant and the potential effects it could pose for at-risk groups like those suffering from emphysema, asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Burning wood, or burning any substance, releases toxic chemicals and particles into the air which affect both the environment and respiratory health.
Additionally, diesel equipment critical to plant operation, like the trucks delivering wood, will add significant pollution on the roads and throughout nearby communities. A constant supply of fuel is needed requiring these trucks to make multiple, daily trips to and from the plant. The age of these vehicles and idling practices will also have a significant impact on the level of pollution emitted, and increase the potential damage to air quality and the health of Gadsden County citizens.
Furthermore, we have noticed a pattern nationwide of biomass plants being proposed for rural areas away from cities; where less protective pollution control restrictions and weaker permitting requirements apply. Plant proponents will say that they “meet the air pollution requirements” but the requirements themselves tend to be more lax.
Our organization is dedicated to healthy air and healthy lungs for all Floridians. I encourage the leaders of Gadsden County to consider the potential negative health effects on an already medically vulnerable and underserved community”
Brenda Olsen, RN
Chief Operating Officer
American Lung Association of the Southeast, Inc.
Serving Florida, Georgia and South Carolina
The Gainesville Sun
Letter to the Editor
Why physicians are against 'biomass' energy
The Florida Medical Association and The American Lung Association of the Southeast oppose "biomass" power plants because they present an unacceptable risk to public health.
At least 75,000 physicians have signed resolutions proposing the banning or severe restrictions on the burning of "biomass" (for electricity) due to the increased risk of premature infant death, asthma in adults and children, chronic bronchitis, heart disease and stroke.
Emissions from "biomass" plants disproportionately harm the newborn, children, athletes, the chronically ill, those with lung disease and the elderly. People with emphysema, other chronic lung diseases, angina or congestive heart failure will be sicker.
Write the mayor and city commissioners. Tell them to fix the City's failed solar program and cancel the contract for the "biomass" plant before it's too late.
For more information on medical opposition to "biomass" plants, see http://biomess.net
The Energy Justice Network
NAACP criticizes biomass plant
The group says the plant would be too costly for minorities.
By Chad Smith
Saturday, March 13, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
The local chapter of the NAACP wants the city to reconsider its proposed biomass power plant, fearing it would cause a spike in utility bills that would hit the poor the hardest.
Related Links:Candidates at odds over energy Earlier this month, Michael Bowie, president of the Alachua County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, sent city commissioners a letter asking them to "withdraw your support for this costly and risky biomass plant."
In an interview, Bowie said the project would have a significant impact on those in the lower socioeconomic tier, a majority of whom are minorities.
"It will be tough for the entire community, but it will definitely be a burden on the poor community," he said.
In the letter, he wrote, "(Gainesville Regional Utilities') map of KWh consumption per square foot of residence shows a remarkable correlation between high per square foot energy consumption and the distribution of lower income African-American population."
He wrote that the "project raises serious questions," asked why it had to be built now when the city won't need the capacity until 2023, and questioned whether cost estimates were valid considering a growing interest in biomass.
"It is unjust for the poor of Gainesville to bear a disproportionate share of the cost of the proposed biomass plant!" the letter concluded.
Bowie and GRU leaders have scheduled a meeting for Monday to discuss the plant's effects on utility rates.
The city is trying to answer some of the same concerns in Tallahassee, where the state's Public Service Commission will be deciding whether the plant will move ahead.
GRU spokesman Dan Jesse said the city-owned utility believes it will be "best for the customers and the rates in the long term."
As for the meeting Monday, Jesse said, "We're just going to be trying to convince them that this is a good business decision."
Contact Chad Smith at 338-3104 or chad.smith@...
Press Release, March 13, 2010
Contact Brack Barker, Conservation Chair, phone # 352-215-4396
The Suwannee/St Johns Sierra Group, which represents 14 counties in North Central Florida including Alachua county, has voted to oppose the GRU/GREC Biomass plant
* A new power plant is not needed; GRU currently has 62% overcapacity
* Competition for increasingly scarce biomass fuel will be too expensive and a burden on the ratepayers
* We reject more massive air pollution and major water withdrawals
* The City of Gainesville needs to expand their energy efficiency programs and aggressively help customers reduce energy consumption. This will create many new jobs that will benefity the community and region. For these reasons the Suwannee/St.John’s group opposes a new power plant.
Brack Barker Suwannee/St Johns Sierra Group Conservation Chair
Sierra Club Opposes Biomass, Chairman Resigns
by Chad Smith
March 29, 2010
Earlier this month, the local Sierra Club issued a statement opposing Gainesville’s plan to build a biomass power plant — a move that frustrated the board’s chairman, a proponent of the proposal who has since resigned, and shows a rift in the environmental community over the issue.
On March 11, the executive committee of the Suwannee-St. Johns Group of the Florida Chapter of the Sierra Club voted 9-2 to oppose the plant, said Brack Barker, the conservation chairman.
Barker said most board members felt the plant could not be sustainable with other biomass plants in North Florida vying to come online, and feared the competition for fuel — mainly wood leftover from tree clearings — could potentially lead to clear-cutting of forests and a spike in rates, he said.
In a news release, Barker wrote that the group voted against the plant because:
•A new power plant is not needed; (Gainesville Regional Utilities) currently has 62% overcapacity
•Competition for increasingly scarce biomass fuel will be too expensive and a burden on the ratepayers
•We reject more massive air pollution and major water withdrawals
•The City of Gainesville needs to expand their energy efficiency programs and aggressively help customers reduce energy consumption. This will create many new jobs that will (benefit) the community and region.
Kim Jamerson, a GRU spokeswoman, said officials from the utility would have liked to meet with the Sierra Club before it made its decision.
Rob Brinkman, who resigned as chairman of the committee after the vote, said members ignored numerous studies that said there was more than enough biomass in the area to sustain the plant.
“They just keep insisting on their own fears,” Brinkman said this afternoon. “To me the discussion at the executive committee was more like a campaign forum more than a science-based discussion of the issue.”
The proposal will be back before the state Public Service Commission in Tallahassee next month, but commissioenrs have expressed concerns over the plant size. It would be a 100-megawatt plant, but Gainesville isn’t expected to need that much electricity until 2023.
Published March 14, 2010
The Gainesville Sun
Letters to the Editor
Published: Friday, February 19, 2010
( page of 3 )
Fueling GRU's biomass
In regard to the requirements of the new 100 MW biomass plant: How did the U.S. Forest Service determine that a 75-mile radius from Gainesville is the plant's supply area? This area incorporates a minimum of 19 counties and covers approximately 11 million acres.
How can the Forest Service guarantee access and availability for fully half of the 1.5 million tons of logging residue left behind annually in the 5.5 million acres of forest in this area? As currently planned, we will require that much logging residue to fuel 75 percent of our new plant.
The 75-mile radius incorporates the cities of Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Leesburg, Crystal River, Cedar Key and Jasper. How can GRU depend upon the cooperation of the many municipalities and owners of the privately held forests to satisfy our increased local consumption?
And does GRU's 30-year contract with GREC include an iron-clad requirement that the biomass burners with their advanced emission controls be upgraded as technology improves to produce cleaner energy?
Andy and Eleanor Merritt
Published: Tuesday, February 16, 2010
( page of 3 )
The PSC nailed it
The Florida Public Service Commissioners have stepped in to provide the first meaningful scrutiny of GRU's proposed bio-burner, something not a single member of the City Commission has done.
PSC Commissioner Nathan Skop nailed it: "GRU and the city are taking a huge risk with the rate payers' money."
The Sun reported that PSC staff made estimates including a $100 million loss for the project by 2043. That is GRU's own estimate, and PSC staff merely comment on it.
They are charitable in accepting GRU's numbers, and also in not pointing out that under this same "base case" scenario, the red ink actually bottoms out at negative $320 million dollars as of 2030. That's without wood prices rising faster than inflation, an obvious possibility that GRU's rosy projection (amazingly) doesn't even consider.
The plan would leave the ratepayers paying for the folly, with jacked up bills and "stranded assets" littering our generation portfolio. All for another 100 megawatts of overcapacity, for power that we do not need.
The biomass scam
Many thanks to the Public Service Commission and The Gainesville Sun for exposing the true reason behind GRU's push for the biomass plant. It is not ecology. It is a form of corporate greed.
The Feb. 11 article states there is not even a "capacity need" until 2023. So, why build it?
The Sun reports that 50 of its 100 megawatt capacity will be sold to Orlando, Lakeland, and other areas. In other words $500 million of our tax dollars will be spent in the hopes GRU can turn a profit selling our electricity to someone else.
The Sun also states your electric bill will also go up a minimum of $4 per month.
And to add insult to injury for you folks out in the countryside, any profit that might possibly happen will be returned by GRU to the Gainesville city treasury, not you. Talk about taxation without representation!
Letters to the Editor, Gainesville Sun, February 6
"Biomass" plants pose an undue risk to public health and the environment. Promoting these incinerators with public subsidies on the false claim that they produce "green" electricity is indefensible public policy.
Under current or proposed laws "biomass" burning will dramatically increase greenhouse gases. It is not 'carbon neutral" as the industry claims.
Current research, data from company permits and proposals, environmental impact reports, and government analyses show that for several key pollutants (notably CO2, NOx and particulates), biomass burning is "dirty energy" - worse than coal. The Florida Medical Society, The Massachusetts Medical Society and the American Lung Association of New England oppose biomass power plants because they present an unacceptable risk to public health.
The U.S. Senate will be acting soon on proposed laws to give "biomass" plants more tax credits.
Please urge senators Bill Nelson and George LeMieux to stand with the interests of the people they represent and vote NO on all tax credits for "biomass" burning to make electricity.
To learn about some of the fourteen proposed "bioenergy" plants in North Florida, visit the Floridians Against Incinerators in Disguise website at http://biomess.net
Karen Orr, Co-chair
The Energy Justice Network
Fall and winter 2009 letters and columns published in The Gainesville Sun opposing the proposed 'biomass' incinerator in Gainesville Florida.
Published: Wednesday, December 30, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Not enough wood for GRU's furnace
In his Dec. 20 column, Ron Cunningham listed some of the reasons wood for GRU's biomass generator may be too expensive for us to buy when that unit is ready to produce electricity. He suggests the local community could buy a forest to supply fuel for the plant “just in case” prices reach a level we cannot afford.
He says we might even persuade the state to allow harvesting fuel wood on the forest land it owns in the county.
It's a good thought, except that there isn't enough available forest land in the county to help us ratepayers much. The plant will burn nearly 2 tons of wood a minute, and it takes over an acre of productive Florida timberland to grow that much wood in a year.
The county owns and manages 6,100 acres of productive timberland, while the state owns about 5,500 acres outside Payne's Prairie. Together, state and county-owned forests might fuel about seven and a half days of biomass generator operation each year, assuming they were sustainably managed and produced as much wood per acre as the commercial timberlands in the county do.
Even if we clear cut the whole 11,700 acres of county and local state forestland to fire the plant in an emergency, the total harvest would supply the generator for only about nine months.
It would take about 880 square miles of sustainably managed Florida timberland land to supply all the wood GRU will burn in its generator in a year. There are only 874 square miles of dry land in the entire county.
This explains in part why so many of us have opposed the biomass generator since the idea first surfaced
Let's talk about the GRU elephant
Not long ago one could find posters at GRU headquarters that stated “Burn to Earn”. I'm not sure if the posters are still there, but it looks like the newest incarnation of this “Burn to Earn” business model is the building of a new biomass power plant.
GRU has two jobs: provide utility services and generate “profits” for the city's general budget. GRU “profits” pay approximately 36 percent of Gainesville's operating expenses in a process they call the “revenue transfer.”
The “revenue transfer” is the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about when discussing future power options. GRU must continue to make money to fund the city's expenses or taxpayers will have to pay higher taxes and city commissioners are reluctant to suggest any increases in taxes for fear they won't get re-elected. So, we are stuck in the 20th century “Burn to Earn” paradigm.
It's time to talk about the elephant in the room. Burning trees is not the way we should be generating revenue for our city. We need a better way to finance the services Gainesville provides to its citizens or we will continue to waste millions of dollars working through more proposals to burn things that generate electricity and “profits.”
Let's make it clear to GRU and the City Commission that we don't a biomass plant in our community either.
"Not enough wood for GRU's furnace" and "Let's talk about the GRU elephan"
Sun editorial page editor Ron Cunningham refused to publish the last two op-eds submitted by former Gainesville mayor Tom Bussing regarding the proposed incinerator.. Dr. Bussing's column, 'The Shell Game,' can be read at the new Florida 'Biomass Opponents' website, Floridians Against Incinerators In Disguise, and Go Green Nation.
We Oppose Biomass Incinerator Projects in Florida
and now…….the rest of the story
Go Green Nation
Published December 24, 2009
"Let's Harvest our Heritage Forests for Biomass"The "waste wood" they want to burn keeps our soil alive.
Not content with the exaggerated supply of "waste wood"
that the ill-advised wood incinerator purports to "take care of,"
apparently such advocates as Ron Cunningham have their eyes
on our Preservation Forests.
It is critical to sustainable forests. Our Preservation Forests
need to continue this natural soil-building cycle.
>From the start, to even discuss this proposed forest-burningpower plant as a mere "waste wood burner” is to acquiesce
to the prevalent political spin. That's a bad joke on us.
In truth, this plant is designed to be a massive tree harvester.
But to be on the safe side, Cunningham suggests, if the fuel wood
plantations can't keep up with the 1,000,000 tons per year appetite
of the Tree Incinerator, let's burn our Heritage Forests.
Save our trees
GRU director Bob Hunzinger (Dec. 6) would have us believe that biomass is a renewable energy source. Nothing could be further from the truth.
He speaks of utilizing "forestry waste" as though it was a useless byproduct of a sustainable industry. The timber industry has already destroyed most of the natural forests of North Florida and has replaced them with ecologically useless pine plantations.
The only part of a pine plantation that is ever returned to nature is the so called "waste" that GRU intends to burn. The "waste" in question consists of what little organic material escapes the loggers, the decomposition of which is critically important to the soil.
There is no waste in nature, every leaf, twig, and bug counts. By turning to biomass we are acting like starving peasants who chop down the last few trees in the desert to feed their starving goats.
Turn off the lights if we must, but leave us the last of our trees!
Bruce J. Morgan,
It's not too late
GRU contracted to build a biomass plant and stick it in our own backyard. It was labeled "renewable energy" to make us feel good.
A biomass plant is simply an incinerator that will burn trees and pine needles; stable forms of carbon which will now be released directly into the air we breathe.
Carbon dioxide is a byproduct of combustion, whether it is wood or coal. My lungs can't tell the difference.
Add to this carbon footprint the 140-plus semi-truckloads of wood debris per day, which will result in additional carbon dioxide emissions. It's not too late to change our minds again.
The Gainesville Sun
Monday, October 19, 2009
Dr. Ronald Saff: Reject Gainesville Biomass Plant
As a former U.F. undergrad, I am proud of the high caliber education I received in Gainesville which has enabled me to achieve my dream of becoming a physician. Although Alachua County receives high marks in educational standards for its premier institution, the county sadly has received a very poor grade from the American Lung Association’s State of the Air Report which gave the county an F in ozone and C in particle pollution (soot). A proposed biomass plant for your community will only make the poor air quality there even more hazardous.
Not only does air pollution cause heart and asthma attacks, strokes, cancer, missed work days and shortened life, pregnant mothers exposed to high levels of air pollution give birth to children with stunted IQ’s making poisoned air an educational issue as well.
The Florida Medical Association, deeply concerned about the massive amounts of carcinogens belched from the smoke stacks of biomass plants and other incinerators, urges State Government to minimize their approval and construction.
My Medical Society in Tallahassee wrote a letter of concern to the Department of Environmental Protection stating that the physicians were concerned that pollutants from a proposed biomass plant would adversely affect patients with respiratory and cardiac conditions and will increase the incidence of respiratory conditions in children.
With half of all men and one-third of all women developing some form of cancer at some time in their lives, society needs less biomass plants and not more of them. I urge Alachua County residents and the Medical Society to follow the example set by Tallahasseeans who realize the health risks that a biomass plant would bring and protested loudly to our politicians. We chased away the biomass plant sited for Tallahassee and with enough screaming and shouting you can do the same.
Ronald Saff, M.D.
Member, Physicians for Social Responsibility
The Gainesville Sun
Letters to the Editor - Oct. 22
We don't need this biomass plant
There is no need to build a huge, polluting tree-burning 100 megawatt power plant in Gainesville.
Four semitrailers per hour of trees will be burned daily at Deerhaven. Five more tree burners are planned for North Florida putting us right into a smog belt.
The tree-burning power plant will release higher levels of polluting CO2, NOX and carbon monoxide than the coal burner. Collecting and transporting trees will add considerably to the overall unhealthy pollution.
GRU should be responsive to ratepayers who are now using less electricity. Ratepayers want to and need to conserve energy. GRU should pursue investment in energy efficiency in commercial buildings, homes, schools and public buildings.
The fastest way to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases is to plant more trees and store more carbon in soils and leave the "waste" in place.
There is no such thing as waste in nature or a forest. Organic matter must be replenished constantly and, if it is not, it will slowly disappear from the soil.
The City of Gainesville can be a vanguard for solar power and pass conservation and efficiency measures that will protect our remaining forests and reduce emissions.
These measures will save millions of dollars for taxpayers and keep our air cleaner and healthier.
McSherry Tree Farm,
The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, October 15, 2009
A throwback plant
The proposed tree-burning power plant is no more than a throwback to the charcoal furnaces of the 19th century.
The forests of America were decimated to fuel a much small population need for industrial fuel.
There are already a number of huge enterprises lined up to turn our forests into energy dollars.
Huge plants are going in across the southeast, some to burn the wood, others to ship it off as pellets to be burned overseas.
The results of this unseemly rush-to-burn will be longlasting and devastating to our forests.
Clever lobbying that brought us the ethanol scam has continued to spread incentives for any-and-all biofuel schemes, including even garbage-burners.
Massive burning of things into our air will increase global warming.
Reducing our over-use of power through greater efficiencies and old-fashioned conservation has to be the first step, not building a giant new tree-incinerator.
For more information see "The Burning Issues With Biomass" at http://www.energyjustice.net/biomass/
Energy Justice Network, Co-chair
The Gainesville Sun---------------------------------------------------------
Published: Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
A simple question: Is plant needed?
In his Saturday Speaking Out, former mayor Tom Bussing brought up some interesting questions about the new power plant approved last year by the City Commission.
There are many points to be argued as to the wisdom of bringing in the Nagadoches company to run this biomass fueled power plant, but my question is simple: Do we need it?
At the time the commissioners were discussing options for future power needs, GRU stated that if Gainesville residents followed GRU energy conservation guidelines,
our current plant would provide sufficient power for something like 12 years, as I remember. Now, GRU tells us that residents have surpassed those conservation expectations and at this level of consumption the need for increased power could be pushed back farther. And that because of our conserving, the utility rates will have to be increased.
I would expect that utility users will find more ways to conserve if their rates increase.
Interestingly, I haven’t yet noticed much of a change in wasteful usage of energy. It’s still freezing in the post office, store employees still wear sweaters in the summer, lighting is still overused.
I haven’t seen a large amount of solar panels or reflective roofing being installed yet, which will come as costs go down with higher demand.
Could more focused conservation along with more widely used alternative energy sources push an increased energy demand back another 10 years? Why should Nagadoches come set up shop? How much will this cost us and is there a need? Seems like a needless waste of energy.
Thomas D. Bussing: GRU's carbon folly
By Thomas D. Bussing
Special to The Sun
Published: Saturday, September 26, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Here's an "Inconvenient Truth" about global warming on our local level: Last May our city commissioners and mayor voted for a massive increase in GRU's emissions of CO2.
The giant new wood-incinerating power plant at Deerhaven is expected to burn one million tons of "biomass" every year. (The current coal plant burns less than half that tonnage in producing twice as much electricity.)
Building the new plant would more than double the smokestack emissions at Deerhaven. This is bizarrely promoted as a "clean and green" project by our city officials. In fact, it is neither.
Dr. William Sammons has written an excellent expose on this (SUN on-line, July 15, 2009), disclosing the fact that wood-burning plants actually emit double the CO2 compared to a coal plant, and thus double the climate impact.
Most of us know that wood is not an efficient fuel. Besides having a low inherent "heat value," it comes with a moisture content that must be boiled off in the flame. Thus, more CO2 is produced for the same amount of heat.
It is illogical to advocate this inefficient fuel as a means to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere. Kilowatt for kilowatt, it will spew more CO2 than a coal plant.
The overriding forces driving this ill-conceived plan are subsidies, regulatory loopholes, and a contorted logic that claims "carbon neutrality" for the plant's exhaust emissions. This "convenient" replacement for truth holds that "Since growing trees absorb CO2, the emissions from this plant are just recycled back into trees ... which we will then burn."
The fallacy is in believing that plants take up all CO2 emissions. In fact plants absorb some, the ocean absorbs more (and as a consequence is becoming more acidic by the year), but a portion just stays and builds up in the atmosphere. That buildup is associated with global warming, and it doesn't matter if the CO2 comes from coal, gas or "biomass."
It is a fact that "biomass" burning produces more CO2 than the conventional fuels. And "biomass" CO2 does not somehow migrate specifically to growing plants. It will, some of it, be in the atmosphere for many thousands of years.
There are many more truths that will continue to come forth to substantiate that the proposed wood-incinerator is a bad idea for Gainesville. But let's take them one at a time.
First of all, it is not "clean and green."
Thomas D. Bussing served as mayor of Gainesville 2001-2004.
The Gainesville Sun
William Sammons: New GRU plant will be neither clean nor green
Published: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 1:52 p.m.
The recently approved contract with a Boston company to build a costly wood incinerator electrical generation plant in Gainesville was sold to us as "clean and green." It is neither.
The fact is, this "biomass" plant will spew almost twice as much CO2 as the proposed coal plant it replaces — an estimated 2 billion pounds of CO2 every year, 2 billion pounds that will accelerate global warming. The proponents argue that the trees burned in the plant will grow back, so the project is "carbon neutral."
However, as the EPA stated on April 24, 2009, in the Endangerment Proposal on CO2, "Indeed, for a given amount of CO2 released today, about half will be taken up by the oceans and terrestrial vegetation over the next 30 years, and a further 30 percent will be removed over a few centuries, and the remaining 20 percent will only slowly decay over time such that it will take many thousands of years to remove from the atmosphere."
In simple fact, trees don't grow fast enough to reabsorb all that CO2. Burning trees puts more carbon in the air and worsens climate change because every molecule of CO2 is the same as every other molecule, whether the CO2 came from a burning a tree or a tailpipe.
The false argument that prevails is that this massive CO2 release is "natural".
Sure, this carbon was part of nature before it was incinerated, but what matters is the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere. Even if you want to rename it for political spin "biogenic" carbon, that won't prevent it from adding to the burden in the atmosphere.
GRU and the plant developers claim the plant is "low emissions," but that doesn't address CO2. There is nothing in the emissions controls on this plant that significantly reduces CO2 emissions. Just look at the lack of common sense here. Burning wood increases the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. And cutting down trees reduces the amount of CO2 taken out of the atmosphere. That's a double whammy for the environment.
The bottom line is that CO2 is CO2. The biomass plant will emit almost twice as much CO2 as the coal plant it supplanted. That's a fact. It isn't "clean and green." It's a travesty.
It is ironic that this is coming to Gainesville at the same time as the cutting-edge solar FIT (Feed In Tariff) solar program. Which path will Gainesville be taking? To the past, or to the future? This scam is about more than CO2. This biomass plant is about investors' profits, not a clean environment or clean power. The way this plant is being promoted is a scam – costing you in dollars, in health, and in your children's futures.
Jim Stringfellow: Let's rethink biomass plant
Consider the pace of technology advancement in energy production.
Published October 12, 2009