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No Thanks to Biomass



In your article on organic waste ("All Hands on Deck," July 21), you said that S.B. 1383 requires cities to procure certain amounts of compost, mulch, bioenergy and biofuel. The regulation doesn't require jurisdictions to take some of each. It's a smorgasbord, not a meal where Mom dishes it out and you have to eat everything on your plate. That's good, because our local bioenergy may be renewable, but it's neither clean nor carbon free. It's time we start saying, "No thanks." 

Biomass plants are federally designated major sources of pollutants with emission standards based not on public safety but on the EPA's finding that the best available controls can't make them any cleaner than coal. Biomass pollution doesn't just harm people living nearby. Fine particulates, which cause heart attacks, asthma attacks, cancer and premature death; stay in the air for many days and travel hundreds of miles. Humboldt Redwood Co.'s biomass plant down in Scotia burns mill waste, not slash or thinnings, so it doesn't prevent forest fires. Instead, it increases the risk of fire by emitting tons of greenhouse gas that will not be reabsorbed from the atmosphere fast enough to avoid climate catastrophe.

We don't need biomass. Even counting methane leaks from gas wells and pipelines, our PG&E gas plant emits far less carbon and pollution per kilowatt hour. There are less-polluting, low- and even negative-carbon uses for mill waste. Five years ago RCEA's RePower Plan included planning to end biomass combustion. Last year, instead of making a plan, they took a second helping and extended the biomass contract to 2030. RCEA must commit publicly now to no expansion of biomass before 2030 and no extension afterward. 

Wendy Ring, Bayside

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