This press release was sent on Oct. 22, 2014, from Biofuelwatch, Dogwood Alliance, Energy Justice Network, Partnership for Policy Integrity, Save America’s Forests, and Global Justice Ecology Project.
Groups across the country denounce “National Bioenergy Day” as a dirty sham
Groups around the country denounce the Biomass Power Association, Biomass Thermal Energy Council and their industry partners’ designation of this date as “National Bioenergy Day.” Pointing to growing opposition to bioenergy facilities around the nation and the world, they say burning trees, contaminated wastes, and garbage is grossly and dangerously misrepresented by industry advocates as “clean, green, and carbon neutral.” The groups point out that biomass power pumps more CO2 into the atmosphere than even coal, along with comparable amounts of toxic air pollution, while also posing new threats to forests, ecosystems, and our health.
Rachel Smolker, Ph.D., co-director of Biofuelwatch, states: “The biomass industry has perpetrated a series of dangerous myths that they just keep repeating to ensure ongoing subsidies and supports. The Biomass Power Association website, for example, is rife with misleading statements, for example proclaiming to ‘Light America with clean, green biomass power—a natural solution to energy independence.’ This is utter nonsense as we would need several planets worth of biomass to provide any significant portion of overall US energy demand from biomass.” (1)
Check out this new video by Rising Tide Vermont promoting a rally and sit-in on the Montpelier Statehouse Lawn on October 27th and highlighting the past 6 months of organizing and direct action against the Fracked Gas Pipeline!
The rally and sit-in, on Monday, October 27 at 3pm, will call on the Shumlin Administration to stop the fracked gas pipeline and protect Vermonters’ (and everyone’s) right to a healthy environment and livable planet.
Our friends at the ETC Group led this victory at the recently ended UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s Conference of the Parties in South Korea. Synthetic biology, a new extreme form of genetic engineering with researchers building unique organisms designed to facilitate the manufacture of various products, was previously unregulated. Now countries are urged to create regulations over this potentially disastrous Wild West of DNA manipulation.
A cacao farmer in Costa Rica. Despite stiff opposition from SynBio countries, the decision is a victory for farmers in the global south. Photo: Everjean
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA– In a unanimous decision of 194 countries, the United Nation’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) today formally urged nation states to regulate synthetic biology (SynBio), a new extreme form of genetic engineering. The landmark decision follows ten days of hard-fought negotiations between developing countries and a small group of wealthy biotech-friendly economies. Until now, synthetic organisms have been developed and commercialized without international regulations; increasing numbers of synthetically-derived products are making their way to market. The CBD’s decision is regarded as a “starting signal” for governments to begin establishing formal oversight for this exploding and controversial field.
“Synthetic Biology has been like the wild west: a risky technology frontier with little oversight or regulation,” Jim Thomas of ETC Group explained from CBD negotiations in Korea. “At last the UN is laying down the law.”
“This international decision is very clear,” Thomas added. “Not only do countries now have to set up the means to regulate synthetic biology, but those regulations need to be based on precaution and not harming the environment.”
“The good news is that precaution won the day.”
This decision comes at a critical time. The SynBio industry is bringing some of its first products to market, including a vanilla flavour produced by synthetically modified yeast and specialized oils used in soaps and detergents derived from synthetically modified algae. In December, bay area SynBio firm Glowing Plants Inc. intends to release synthetically-engineered glow-in-the-dark plants to 6,000 recipients without government oversight. The United States is not a signatory to the CBD, making it one of only three countries that will not be formally bound by this decision (the other 2 are Andorra and the Holy See).
Photo by Ben Powless of the Wet’suwet’en Nation’s Enbridge protest that was one of the areas of focus for the RCMP. Extremist? Worthy of surveillance by the RCMP? Worthy of attention, for sure, but not RCMP surveillance. The sign now takes on new meaning. In response to ‘Respect Indigenous Rights,’ RCMP says, ‘No.’
Last week, APTN released findings from researcher Jeffrey Monaghan that show that the RCMP closely surveilled members of the IEN (Indigenous Environmental Network) and their allies in 2010 during organizing to fight the extreme energy extraction of the tar sands and the pipelines. Documents show that the RCMP categorized IEN as an extremist group, and might still do so, despite disagreements even among officers.
Global Justice Ecology Project is among several others who are named as supporters of a 2010 protest against the Enbridge pipeline, and named as “involved persons.”
“When you read the document closely it shows an intimate surveillance,” said Monaghan. “(The documents) show the breadth of and the normalization of the regular systematic surveillance of protest groups, of people who criticize government policy and critics of energy policy. You have national security bureaucracies, agencies, focused on domestic protest groups and it has nothing to do with terror, but with the energy economy.”
Yup, not surprising historically at all, but repression nonetheless. What to do? Hard to know, but political pressure couldn’t hurt. How dare RCMP target Indigenous environmental organizers in this way?
The RCMP closely monitored the movements of an Indigenous environmental activist as it tightened surveillance around possible protests in northern British Columbia targeting the energy firm behind the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline, according to “confidential” documents obtained by APTN National News.
It is difficult to imagine that in 2014 we are still facing clearcut strategies for our rapidly disappearing forested lands. Biomass is certainly a false solution to climate change. From the Summit County Colorado Summit Daily
One possible reason for sticking to the ill-advised Ophir Mountain and other clear-cutting plans is that the clear-cut trees would go to the biomass power plant in Gypsum. Biomass power is renewable energy. It wouldn’t justify destroying Summit County’s wonderful forests and trails, but biomass is green energy right? Maybe not.
Is biomass power a good renewable energy source that we should promote here in Colorado? To answer this, we need to back up and look at where biomass energy comes from. As with most of our energy sources, it starts with energy from the sun. In photosynthesis, plants use solar energy to convert water and carbon dioxide to carbohydrates. Energy is stored in the carbon-hydrogen bonds. (Geologic pressure over time strips the oxygen from plant material to create hydrocarbon fossil fuels.) When animals metabolize carbohydrates, or when plant or fossil fuel material combusts (burns), that energy is released as oxygen combined with the material, returning to the lower-energy carbon-oxygen and hydrogen-oxygen bonds of carbon dioxide and water.
The problem with fuels such as coal and wood is that they are solids. The combustion process requires direct contact between oxygen molecules and molecules of the fuel. For gaseous fuels such as natural gas, that is very easy, individual oxygen molecules readily mix directly with individual methane molecules. For liquid fuels such as petroleum products, vegetable oil or ethanol, that mixing is more difficult and the resulting combustion less efficient. With solid fuels, however, it is exceedingly difficult for individual oxygen molecules to contact individual fuel molecules, so the combustion process is incomplete and far less efficient.
While they do not typically use violence as a medium for their message, the organizations that shine a light on corporate agendas and corrupted governments often get those kinds of threats in return. Over the last few weeks the Brazilian organization Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) has come to know these tactics all too well.
CIMI ransacked office. Photo: World Rainforest Movement
Over the past few weeks, staff at the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI) in the state of Acre have faced a series of threats and intimidation. The office has been broken into twice, the room ransacked, a computer taken, files burned, and internet wiring destroyed.
CIMI is one of the key organisations in Brazil demanding the respect of indigenous peoples’ rights. In Acre, CIMI works to support indigenous peoples who are faced with ranching and logging companies taking their land and destroying the forests.
In an attempt to publicise and to stop the violence and threats, CIMI is holding a public gathering outside its office in Rio Branco today.
Since 2012, the state of Acre has received funding from the German government, through its “REDD Early Movers” programme. On its website the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), which is managing the REDD Early Movers programme, describes Acre as one of the “pioneers” in forest protection, “not just in Brazil but also beyond”.
A cautionary tale of the unintended consequences of stopping fossil fuels without addressing the problem of overconsumption and demand for energy. And yet another example of why we need to fundamentally address the system driving ecological destruction and climate change and not just promote bandaids.
In Tennessee, Time Comes for a Nuclear Plant Four Decades in the Making
By MATTHEW L. WALD
Cooling towers rise above two adjacent nuclear reactors, Watts Barr 1 and 2. Construction on the second was suspended in 1988 and resumed in 2007.CreditShawn Poynter for The New York Times
SPRING CITY, Tenn. — When the Tennessee Valley Authority first ordered Watts Bar 2, the nuclear reactor now approaching completion here, demand for electricity was growing at 7 percent a year and coal supplies were uncertain. The mercury, soot and acid rain that coal produced were simply accepted as the way things were, and many of the people who now worry about global warming had not yet been born.
But that was 1970. Today nearly all of that is reversed as Watts Bar 2, the nuclear industry’s version of a time traveler, prepares to begin operations. Now there is barely any growth in electricity demand, and plenty of coal, but most aging coal-burning plants need expensive cleaning or replacement. Thus the reactor, the T.V.A. reasons, is arriving at an opportune moment, even if almost every projection made over the last 44 years has proved wrong. With halting progress amid changing projections, construction has taken longer than that for the Panama Canal or the Great Pyramid of Cheops.