Category Archives: Bioenergy / Agrofuels

Worker killed in biomass plant accident

A biomass power plant in Louisiana, still under construction, became the tragic backdrop of an on-site death, according to Energy Justice‘s website. The death is related to testing being conducted in the building, but authorities are extremely tight-lipped about specifics.

Drexel Biomass Plant. Photo: Earth Justice

Drexel Biomass Plant. Photo: Earth Justice

Even though details are being withheld, we do know that the individual was airlifted to a local hospital, where he later died. Many environmental activists proclaim that the EPA often gives biomass corporations big breaks, even bigger than fossil fuel plants. Without knowing the full details, we cannot be sure that the error is on the worker or the corporation.

 

Man Killed in Accident at Drax Biomass Plant in Louisiana

Earth Justice, Oct. 22, 2014

The worker who died after an accident at a Drax Biomass plant in Morehouse Parish has been identified as 32-year old Christopher Erving of West, Mississippi. Erving was a contracted employee of the Jacksonville, Florida based Haskell Corporation. Drax Biomass has released a statement on the incident:

“It is with deep regret that we confirm the death of a contractor involved in an incident at the Morehouse Pellet Plant construction site near Bastrop Louisiana in the early evening of Tuesday, October 21st. Site emergency plans were enacted immediately and the injured person was air-lifted to hospital by the emergency services where he later died. The incident is now the subject of a full and thorough investigation by ourselves, the contractor’s firm, and the authorities. We are unable to give any details of that investigation until it has been concluded. Our thoughts and sympathy are with his family”

Read the full article here.

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National Bioenergy Day is a “Dirty Sham”

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

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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)

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Biofuelwatch, BREAKING NEWS, Dr. Rachel Smolker, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Greenwashing

Partnership for Policy Integrity Maps Biomass Polluters in Pennsylvania

BurningWoodJust in time for National Bioenergy Day (October 22), the biomass industry’s biggest BS marketing day, the Partnership for Policy Integrity (PFPI) has released a new report and online database identifying “The 100 Most Polluting Biomass Energy Facilities in Pennsylvania.”

Industry calls biomass energy “a way to keep forests healthy” and touts burning wood as a “green” solution to energy and climate change.

This false solution, characterized by destruction of forest ecosystems and release of airborne toxins, should be an embarrassment, not a marketing ploy.

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UN Biodiversity Convention urges countries to regulate synthetic biology

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.

Regulate Synthetic Biology Now: 194 Countries
SynBio industry’s wild west days are numbered

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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).

For the entire article click here

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Commodification of Life, Genetic Engineering, Synthetic Biology, UN, Uncategorized, Victory!

Colorado Biomass = Clearcut=False Solutions to Climate Change

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

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Is biomass all its cut up to be? 

Howard Brown    17 October 2014    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.

Read the Full Article Here

 

 

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Biofuelwatch, Climate Change, Energy, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Uncategorized

Brazil to Build Huge Biomass Plant

BOLT Energias has secured the 150 MW Campo Grande biomass power plant.  The facility will be operational in 2017, and will be fueled with woody biomass. This will be Brazil’s largest biomass plant. Areva has already constructed 95 biomass plants globally with a total installed capacity of over 2,500MW.

French Energy Firm Areva will build the BOLT Energias 150MW Campo Grande biomass plant.

French Energy Firm Areva will build the BOLT Energias 150MW Campo Grande biomass plant.

 Areva secures contract to build Brazil’s largest biomass power plant

Clean Technology Business Review (CBTR)  15 October 2014

French energy firm Areva has secured a contract to build the 150MW Campo Grande biomass power plant for Brazilian utility BOLT Energias.

Planned to be built in the northeastern state of Bahia, the Campo Grande plant is claimed to be the largest biomass facility in Brazil.

The contract requires Areva to deliver engineering, procurement and construction services for the plant, which will feature three 50MW modules.

The facility, which is expected to commence operations in 2017, will be fueled with woody biomass.

Areva Renewables CEO Louis-François Durret said: “Awarded as part of the first biomass plant project undertaken in Brazil in recent years, this success illustrates BOLT Energias’ recognition of AREVA’s knowledge in construction and technological expertise.

“This contract will mark the first step of a successful collaboration with our Brazilian partner.”

Areva has already constructed 95 biomass plants globally, with a total installed capacity of over 2,500MW.

Read the whole article here

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Biofuelwatch, Climate Change, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change, Greenwashing, Uncategorized

Invasive Species and The GE/GMO Relationship

Most readers of Climate Connections know that we at the Global Justice Ecology Project, Campaign to STOP GE Trees, and Biofuelwatch, consider that GE Trees can be highly invasive species. These synthetic organisms live for a long time and introduce toxins into natural ecosystems. This profoundly and negatively impacts ecosystem services. The biotech industry wants us to believe that these products are safe. The  Convention for Biological Diversity adopted the The Precautionary Principle in 2001 because adequate GMO science is uncertain, ambiguous, has omitted research areas, and lacks the basic knowledge of crucial risk assessments.

An article published yesterday in Environmental Health News and Truthout tells the horrible story of the consequences of invasive species to birds in the Great Lakes of North America.

While the invasives in the story are not GE Trees, the lessons to be learned from this invasion are fundamental and are exactly why we have to be very careful when introducing invasive species into the wild.

 

Diane Borgreen from the Wildlife Health Office collects a Franklin's gull affected by avian botulism. Botulism toxin paralyzes the muscles and results in the death of thousands of birds every year. (Photo: Lee Jones / USFWS)

Diane Borgreen from the Wildlife Health Office collects a Franklin’s gull affected by avian botulism. Botulism toxin paralyzes the muscles and results in the death of thousands of birds every year. (Photo: Lee Jones / USFWS)

Mass Murder by Botulism: surge in Great Lakes Bird Deaths Driven by Invaders

By Brian Bienkowski, Truthout. 15 October 2014

Leland, Michigan - A midsummer overcast lifts as Lake Michigan changes from inky black to a deep blue-green. Ben Turschak bends over the rail of the boat, staring into the abyss in search of an exact spot.

“There it is, there it is,” Turschak says. He points to an underwater buoy used to mark a stash of underwater cameras and monitoring equipment 60 feet below the surface.

Turschak, a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee graduate student, and his colleague Emily Tyner climb into bulky dry suits and strap on air tanks, masks and flippers, preparing for a plunge into the 60-degree water.

“I’m a little nervous, I haven’t dived here in two years. I’ve dived in the Caribbean and it’s just much harder here,” Tyner says. “This lake might as well be an ocean.”

Turschak leads Tyner down to the bottom. Ten minutes later they splash up, then climb back onto the boat and start unloading their bounty of water samples and a big bag of smelly green algae. “That’s the most gobies we’ve seen,” Tyner says. The aggressive bottom-feeding fish with a voracious appetite, accidentally imported from Eurasia, has taken over the nearshore waters here.

Read the full article here.

 

 

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Biofuelwatch, Campaign to STOP GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, GMOs, Great Lakes, Human made disasters, Monsanto, Pollution

Biomass-the Wrong Solution to Climate Change

Today’s post comes from our friends at the Energy Justice Network and the Biomass Monitor.

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Biomass Energy: Another Kind of Climate Change Denial

By Josh Schlossberg, Biomass Monitor. October 12, 2014

We’re all familiar with climate change deniers, cheerfully and/or willfully ignorant folk who refuse to accept that human-caused carbon emissions are responsible for the climate crisis — or that there even is a climate crisis. Those of us who value science and common sense typically have as much patience for these twenty-three percent of Americans as we do for anyone who believes that maggots arise spontaneously from rotting meat, witches cause disease, or the Earth is the center of the universe.

Recently, a subtler breed of climate change denier has emerged, spreading their propaganda and even infiltrating aspects of the environmental movement: biomass boosters. These advocates for the biomass energy industry often avoid detection by professing concern with carbon emissions. Yet, while cursing fossil fuels out of one side of their mouths, out of the other they bless the burning of one of the world’s greatest buffers against runaway climate chaos — our forests — for energy.

If the climate movement wants to win over the American people and influence policy, it needs to have credibility, which only comes through consistency, and that means distancing itself from the climate change deniers in our midst.

Read the whole article here.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Biofuelwatch, Climate Change, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change