FOR Immediate Release, July 12, 2011
Tallahassee, Florida: A group of health, clean air, civil rights, and fiscal responsibility groups announced today their concerns about the continued use of taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies for biomass combustion power projects being promoted as “clean renewable energy.” The network includes Gulf Citizens for Clean Renewable Energy, the NAACP, American Lung Association in Florida, Florida League of Conservation Voters, and Floridians Against Incinerators in Disguise.
“Proposed biomass combustion for electricity emits dangerous air pollution, dries up water supplies, and damages forests and ecosystems. This form of energy is neither “green” nor “renewable” and should not be receiving “clean energy” taxpayer and ratepayer subsidies,” said Dr. William Sammons, a pediatrician with national expertise in the health impacts of biomass.
According to Dr. Ron Saff, an asthma and immunology specialist in Tallahassee, “Biomass combustion to make electricity emits “nano particulates” containing large amounts of absorbed or condensed toxic air pollutants that can pass directly into the circulatory system and blood stream. Leading medical state and national medical organizations oppose subsidies for biomass energy because of its adverse health and climate impacts. It emits more carbon dioxide per megawatt of energy produced than fossil fuels, and contributes to asthma, heart disease, cancer, chronic bronchitis, and risk of premature death. Many areas of Florida already have terrible air quality, and yet Florida has plans for 10 more of these incinerators,” Dr. Saff added.
One recent example is the “fast tracked” biomass combustion project in Port St. Joe, in Gulf County. According to NAACP State Vice President, Dale Landry, “This dirty biomass project will be located in an African American and low income area in Port St. Joe. This includes the Millview community of about 300 families who are living on top of a toxic waste dump left behind by the St. Joe paper company. The government has refused to clean it up and now wants to use our taxpayer money to put in this toxic, polluting biomass project. The national NAACP and others are asking Governor Scott and Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Vinyard to investigate to avoid violating the federal Civil Rights Act,” Landry added.
“Most biomass facilitates are proposed for communities of color and working poor around the U.S. -who are already burdened with a disproportionate amount of industrial pollution,” stated Ananda Lee Tan, with the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives. “Almost every week, another community stands up to successfully stop these expensive, toxic smokestacks from being built in their backyard.”
“It would be hard to find many old men in the Millview Community as most have died early from cancer, heart attacks and other diseases as a result of working at the paper mill and living on top of the toxic waste from the mill,” stated Annie Sue Fields, a long time resident. “We have all suffered more than our share from contamination and for a new source of sickness to be allowed to bring further harm to our people would be a grave injustice,” she concluded. Another long time resident is Amy Rogers, she stated that, “Our community has suffered long enough from the toxic legacy in Port St. Joe. We’ve been promised jobs and no pollution but the facts show otherwise. Promises of jobs aren’t worth the tradeoff of more sickness and disease.”
The Port St Joe project will use technology that has never been used at this scale, and will emit 607 tons of air pollution. The state permit does not require Rentech to use the controls which represent the absolute best technology that would reduce pollutants to the lowest level that can be achieved. Even those levels for dioxin and PM less than 2.5 microns are not protective of human health, especially for children. “ The previous developer of the Port St. Joe project was Glenn Farris, who sold the rights to Rentech, but remains involved in this project. Mr. Farris is the same project owner of the failed Tallahassee biomass incinerator in 2009,” said Joy Towles Ezell, President of the Florida League of Conservation Voters.
A June, 2011 report, “Biomass Electricity: Clean Energy Subsidies for a Dirty Industry” says over the next 3 years, biomass projects will cost American taxpayers $10 billion. “Congress can help reduce the budget deficit by cutting these subsidies and at the same time save lives and decrease health care costs. I hope that Governor Scott will not be complacent with industry as they push these incinerators to garner taxpayer dollars, as he has been calling for austerity measures,” said Meg Sheehan, spokesperson for the Biomass Accountability Project, which issued the report.
The 100 megawatt biomass project in Gainesville, Florida is being financed with loans from multination investors, and most recently the Japanese trading house Itochu Corp said on Wednesday July 6th it would join a $500 million project to build a 100-megawatt biomass power plant in Gainesville (see “4” below). According to locals fighting the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center, the U.S. will incur further debt in using taxpayer money to pay back foreign investors, in direct contradiction to industry claims that biomass energy will help U.S. energy independence. “There’s no difference between incurring more debt to pay off foreign investors and buying oil from the Mideast,” stated Karen Orr, Chairwoman of the Energy Justice Network and Gainesville resident. “Every way you look at it, biomass energy is a lose-lose for Americans.”
For more information:
Dr. William Sammons, email@example.com, 781-799-0014
Mr. Dale Landry, NAACP 5th Vice President, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Ron Saff, email@example.com
Floridians Against Incinerators in Disguise, firstname.lastname@example.org
Florida League of Conservation Voters, Joy Towles Ezell, 850-843-1574
American Lung Association of the Southeast, Inc, www.lungFla.org
Gulf Citizens for Clean Renewable Energy, email@example.com,
Karen Orr, Chairwoman, www.Energyjustice.net
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, www.no-burn.org
1. Clean Energy Subsidies for a Dirty Industry, Biomass Accountability Project report, July 2011: http://www.nobiomassburning.org
2. An Industry Blowing Smoke, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives report, June 2009: http://www.no-burn.org/article.php?id=731
3. Biomass Has Unacceptable Health Risks & Costs, Energy Justice Network compilation: http://www.energyjustice.net/files/biomass/medicalstatements.pdf
4. Itochu to join $500 mln biomass power plant project
TOKYO, July 6 (Reuters) – Japanese trading house Itochu Corp said on Wednesday it would join a $500 million project to build a 100-megawatt biomasspower plant in Gainesville, Florida. Itochu’s wholly owned subsidiary Tyr Energy and three firms …
Tyr, Baycorp and EMI close on Gainesville biomassProject Finance Magazine (subscription)
Japan’s Itochu to join US$500m biomass power plant projectIndustrial Fuels and Power
Port St. Joe/Farris/Rentech Project a.k.a. Northwest Florida Renewable Energy Center
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