* NC Green News for Aug 18 – Duke, Fracking, Biomass, the Climate Crisis and More

Here are some recent reports impacting our North Carolina environment. Feel free to share the ones you like with friends and neighbors!

This Land is Your Land

Charlotte Moral Monday
Moral Monday in Charlotte – Aug 19, 5:00 PM – Be There!
and Facebook:  Moral Monday Charlotte #moralmonday

Duke and Coal Ash
NC judge: Green groups can join suit against Duke Energy
Southern Environmental Law Center submits info on Duke Energy (WSOC video)

Duke and Nukes
Duke Energy spending on Lee nuclear plant nears $350M
Duke plans for 2 new S.C. nuclear reactors delayed
Duke Energy cancels Levy nuclear plant, cites state law changes
Duke Power “legally” steals $3 billion from Florida customers

Duke Buying Goodwill
Duke Energy Foundation writes $6.7M check to N.C. community colleges

Duke Betrays Public Trust
Charges dismissed against regulator indicted over Duke Energy ties

Duke/Progress Merger Bad News for NC
Appeals Court Weighs Merger of Duke Energy, Progress Energy
— News Release from NC WARN

There is a right way to do this
Catawba/Wateree Coal Ash Removal in South Carolina Ahead of Schedule

The good, the bad, the ugly, and the really, really ugly
NC Sierra Club 2013 Legislative Report

New York Times on the fall of NC – article references the 2011 article State for Sale and Art Pope
North Carolinians fear the end of a middle way

This will make you sick
NC agency move would allow 9 times more arsenic in our air

One step forward, two steps back
NC legislature slows fracking rush, renews push for offshore drilling

New Duke Research Ties Drinking Well Contamination to Fracking

Our Forests Aren’t Fuel – Update from the Dogwood Alliance
Wood Pellet Manufacturing is Risky Business and it Just Got Even Riskier
Court Strikes Down EPA’s Free Pass for Biomass

NC Physician on Climate Crisis
Global warming bad for planet, but it may kill us first

Climate Crisis Messaging – Grist David Roberts’ sobering thoughts
Conservative hostility to science predates climate science
The futility of “just the facts” climate science
Can Climate Science Be Rendered Conservative-Friendly?

* Trash and Biomass Incineration Worse for Climate than Coal

New data illustrates why power plants like the ReVenture Park incinerator is still a really bad idea for the health and safety of our community and our planet.

Trash and biomass incineration are far worse for the climate than coal, per unit of energy produced.

Trash incineration releases 2.5 times as much CO2 as coal, and 55% more if you pretend that the biogenic* part doesn’t count.  Biomass is nearly 50% worse than coal.  This is based on the latest U.S. EPA eGRID 2012 data (2009 data, released in May 2012).

CO2 US Power Plants

















Please note that, especially with the practice of fracking, natural gas is actually worse than coal for global warming, if you count all of the methane leakage from extraction to pipelines to end uses.  This chart is just for smokestack emissions, but for the whole picture on global warming pollution from gas vs. coal, see: http://www.eeb.cornell.edu/howarth/Marcellus.html

* The “biogenic doesn’t count” (a.k.a. “carbon neutrality”) argument relies on the assumption that the extra pulse of carbon pollution is instantly sucked up by trees grown specifically to offset the emissions from the trees burned. In reality, it takes centuries to become “zero” and about 40 years for biomass to become only as bad as coal. That figure, from a study done for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, caused that state to adopt the strictest limits on biomass incineration in the nation, making it basically ineligible for renewable energy credits. Studies on this can be found in the links on the right sidebar on our biomass page: http://www.energyjustice.net/biomass/

Read more about Biomass Incineration on the Energy Justice Network website.

Read the new report at Dirtier Than Coal: Why Government plans to subsidise burning trees are bad news for the planet

Dirtier Than Coal

The report, Dirtier Than Coal: Why Government plans to subsidise burning trees are bad news for the planet, criticizes proposals by the UK government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to continue and expand taxpayer subsidies for the biomass power industry. The NGOs accuse the government of ignoring principles set out in the 2012 UK Bioenergy Strategy which called for a biomass energy policy that would “deliver genuine carbon reductions that help meet UK carbon emissions objectives to 2050 and beyond.” According to critics, even the Bioenergy Strategy’s policy conclusions support an expansion of biomass energy and contradict the analysis and cautions about carbon impacts.

Friends of the Earth (FOE), Greenpeace, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) say that the government has “chosen to exclude a number of key sources of emissions” from biomass energy in their carbon calculations, with the findings “based on fundamentally flawed data relating to greenhouse gas implications.” Failure to fix the error and rework biomass policies will come at “considerable cost to the public, and have a damaging impact our climate.”

Dirtier Than Coal alleges that government support for burning trees for electricity “threatens” commitments in the Climate Change Act of 2008 to cut back on greenhouse gases “in terms of actual emissions to the atmosphere in the critical period to 2050, within which we must avert dangerous climate change.” The report authors demand an “immediate review and revision” of the emissions calculations to include those from “carbon debt and indirect substitution,” and to develop a “comprehensive accounting system.” They call for an end to subsidies for burning biomass from saw logs and roundwood because of the compelling evidence for a high carbon debt from burning wood from whole trees.

* Alice’s Restaurant Illustrated: A Thanksgiving Counterculture Classic

In the tradition of Alice’s Restaurant this is a post about “Alice’s Restaurant Illustrated: A Thanksgiving Counterculture Classic” that starts out in one direction, takes a side trip, and ends back home. I hope that Arlo Guthrie, Woody Guthrie’s son, will like this.

Have you seen the PBS special about the life of Wood Guthrie? By the way, the link doesn’t take you to the PBS special, it takes you to the Wikipedia article about the life of Woody. It’s just as well because you should go there first. The link to the PBS special is here Link to Wood Guthrie PBS special.  Well the link actually takes you to a nice piece about the special, not the actual show. You can find it if you want to see it. I saw it this week and it is excellent!

The reason I mention Woody Guthrie, Arlo’s dad, is because I also saw Ken Burn’s new special The Dust Bowl this week. Unlike the other links, this link will take you to a page where you can actually watch the special. It’s a must see story! Here’s the description:

THE DUST BOWL chronicles the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history, in which the frenzied wheat boom of the “Great Plow-Up,” followed by a decade-long drought during the 1930s nearly swept away the breadbasket of the nation. Vivid interviews with twenty-six survivors of those hard times, combined with dramatic photographs and seldom seen movie footage, bring to life stories of incredible human suffering and equally incredible human perseverance. It is also a morality tale about our relationship to the land that sustains us—a lesson we ignore at our peril.

The part that caught my attention was the phrase “the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history“. I paused. Could we be on the brink of an even worse “man-made ecological disaster”? In our rush to find fossil fuels we are injecting toxins into our earth – fracking. We’re knowingly injecting toxic, cancer causing chemicals into the ground and risking polluting whole aquifers of our drinking water forever.

Which some how brings me back to Arlo and  Alice’s Restaurant. If you didn’t know it’s now a Thanksgiving classic. Recorded in 1967, the 18+ minute counterculture song recounts Arlo Guthrie’s real encounter with the law, starting on Thanksgiving Day 1965. And it builds steadily into a satirical protest against the Vietnam War draft.

I hope that you enjoy it and, by the way, Happy Thanksgiving!

* A physician’s letter to environmental journalists about the proposed ReVenture incinerator

While the author of this letter, William Blackley, MD, writes about ReVenture’s failed  plan to burn garbage (“A physician’s letter to environmental journalists” by Rhiannon Fionn-Bowman, Feb 22, 2011), many of his points deal with the burning of biomass for energy in general. It also a reminder about what has taken place over these past several years.

It’s an excellent reminder.

It’s an excellent warning…

A physician’s letter to environmental journalists

Source: Creative Loafing, Rhiannon Fionn-Bowman, Feb 22, 2011

This letter (below) speaks for itself. Though it was sent to several media organizations’ environmental journalists, I’ve yet to see or hear any of them share the letter or comment on it besides allowing the original post in the comments to remain online. (Do correct me if I’m wrong.)

The author is responding to an article about the proposed ReVenture Park’s proposed gasification-incinerator hybrid, and he offers a perspective not included in most of the media coverage about the project or the county’s role in it.

Read more about ReVenture (though some of the project’s details have already “evolved”) in the February issue of Charlotte magazine (written by me), or online here: “ReVenture Under Review.”

Now, in the interest of the First Amendment, here is Dr. William Blackey’s verbatim response to a recent Charlotte Observer article:


Dear Bruce (and other environmental reporters).  We’ve talked before and you’ll remember me as a physician from Elkin, North Carolina.  I read the recent article (link pasted) in the Charlotte Observer about ReVenture.  Thanks you for reading my response below.  I sent it in as a response on line.Sincerely, William Blackley, MD

Waste-to-energy beats landfills, experts say


In reading this article it’s apparent that Mr. McKittrick is being ‘sold’ on the ‘concept’ that the only safe way to deal with waste is burn it.  He seems to be relying on advice from ‘vendors’ and others with financial interests in ReVenture.

Mr. McKittrick says, “pollution-control ‘vendors’ guarantee emissions will be within safe limits.”   I notice he didn’t say that ‘ReVenture’ guarantees that the emissions would be within safe limits.  Is this his way of saying that if there are problems the ‘vendors’ will be responsible or is it his way of saying that he doesn’t know if it is safe or not but the ‘vendors’ do?

One of the ‘expert’ proponents who testified at the recent conference sponsored by those with interest in ReVenture is Nickolas Themelis.  He has established his own Waste to Energy Foundation.  His bio says he’s the “inventor of about twenty patents related to high temperature processing.”  (His) “Current research work is on integrated waste management and the design of processes for material and energy recovery from used products.”  Sounds like his business is about waste burning ‘concepts.’

ReVenture is a ‘concept’ rather than a tested operation.  Is there any plant like ReVenture in operation that has a track record we can examine?  Would any of us buy a ‘concept’ car and put our kids in it for a test drive at highway speeds?

Has the county, city or ReVenture conducted a health risk due diligence study?  Has ReVenture completed an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) looking at risks and alternatives?

Since there is such a rush to implement some of these ‘concepts’ apparently the federal government allows companies to be exempt from the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that requires an EIS for ‘certain action “significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.”

Just because ReVenture may be exempt from NEPA doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to skip environmental impact or medical due diligence studies.

The North Carolina Medical Institute of Medicine Task Force on Prevention (Co-chaired by the NC State Health Director, Dean of UNC Medical School and CEO of the North Carolina Medical Society) produced a study entitled, “Prevention for the Health of North Carolina: Preventive Action Plan, October 2009, revised July 2010 ”

It pointed out that Mecklenburg County had “exceeded the annual EPA standards” for particulate matter in the last several years.  Their research estimated that there are 3,000 “Premature death (adults)” in North Carolina citizens annually from particulate matter in our air.

They also pointed out in the same study that, “In 2009, Charlotte-Gastonia-Salisbury metropolitan area ranked the 8th most ozone-polluted city in the nation.”  According to the study, ‘short-term exposure to elevated ozone levels can contribute to premature death.’

Are the citizens of Charlotte really going to permit another plant that adds more ozone and particulate matter to their air?

This entire Institute of Medicine document may be read on line at the website below.  Read Chapter 7 detailing Environmental Risks.


Mr. McKittrick seems to be a businessman hoping to help the community and create jobs.  He is not an environmental or health specialist.

He’s taking the word of ‘vendors’ and others who hope to sell Charlotte a multi-million dollar business deal that they have a financial interest in.  To sweeten the bargain the ReVenture could receive a 154 million dollar federal stimulus grant to reimburse up to one third of the project’s cost . . . at taxpayer expense.

That’s a good deal for ReVenture.  But it’s not a good deal for the primary stakeholders, the citizens, who pay the taxes and who would be exposed to the toxic emissions.  Lead in gasoline and paint was a good deal for those businesses but a bad deal for humans.

The volumes of emissions that would be released from this ‘concept’ plant have not been determined.  However, the toxic health effects of emissions like those that would come from this plant have thoroughly studied.

‘Expert’ testimony or opinion about these emissions has no credibility when it comes from people who have financial interest in the outcome, whether the ‘experts’ are professors or not.

Every other incinerator in the world emits toxic emissions.   Do citizens want to gamble that ReVenture is the single safe variant . . . based on opinions from vendors who will make money from the sale?

The proponents acknowledge that the plant will “release air emissions, including carbon monoxide, fine particles, acidic gases and smog-forming compounds.”

ReVenture proponents seem to shy away from hot button topics like dioxins, carbon dioxide, global warming, weather change, nanoparticles, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxides, volatile organic compounds and ozone.

They know that Charlotte citizens may be worried about ozone and conveniently don’t mention that ReVenture would emit gasses that turn into ozone when exposed to sunlight.

The proponents confuse the public with distracting sound bites such as when they haul out the old ‘trash barrel burning’ comparison as if that has anything at all to do with ReVenture.  ‘Trash barrel burning’ is not an option anyone is considering.

They say ReVenture will ‘release’ air emissions but they carefully avoid saying that ReVenture will ‘increase’ air emissions and worsen air quality.  They know it will worsen air quality but don’t want to acknowledge that fact.   Does anyone want to add more toxic air emissions to Charlotte air . . . besides people making money off of doing it?  Isn’t reducing air pollution a goal in Charlotte?

They may claim that burning waste would replace coal but then there is no coal plant dumping out toxic emissions near downtown Charlotte.  This spurious argument completely begs the issue since that are truly clean energies such as solar, wind, water and hydrogen that many hope will replace fossil and other biomass fuels.

Proponents claim, “Modern pollution controls and combustion techniques catch most of those emissions.”  When the company touts MACT or BACT, (maximum or best available control technology) this only means that ReVenture is required to use the best 12% of control technology available in a plant like ReVenture.  It says nothing about absolute effectiveness of control and ‘most’ is a relative term.

Besides, since ReVenture is the only plant like it so who will set the 12% standard?  Will state regulators come up with some ‘concept’ guidelines or will they base regulations on the modeling ‘concept’ presented by ReVenture.

If ReVenture violates the emission standards, what happens?  They would be fined over and over without being shut down.   In an interview with an attorney for the State Health Department, he said that stopping a plant like this for health reasons was almost impossible.  He said that once they fire up they would be almost untouchable.

As far as I can determine there is no plan for short or long term monitoring of human health effects in the vicinity of ReVenture.  To allow a nature trail through the complex is quite the paradox.

The proponents make a big deal claiming that “Emissions will be continuously monitored . . . so problems can be quickly detected.”  They neglect to mention that only a ‘few’ of the multiple air emissions would be continuously monitored.

Proponents claim that their process is very different from other incinerators.  I agree.  Many of the dangerous emissions from this plant will be gases and fine particles that are colorless and odorless.  Citizens won’t even know they are breathing them or swallowing them when they ingest locally contaminated food, fish or grazing animals.

The proponents claim that the government regulations and standards will protect the citizens.  You only have to look at NC Biomedical Waste (NCBMW) in Matthews to understand the inaccuracy of that statement.    NCBMW was emitting 1,000 % more dioxins and 300 % more mercury than the EPA deemed safe for humans.  NCBMW is not shut down.  They were recently given two years by the state and Mecklenburg County Air Pollution Control agency (they asked for four) to fix the problems after a huge public outcry.   In the mean time citizens are exposed daily

As a point of reference, an air permit only sets a minimum standard that in effect allows for a ‘maximum amount of pollution’ that an incinerator is allowed to emit.  These are called ‘de minimus’ standards.

Just as the government regulators allowed lead in paint and gasoline for years, allowed Agent Orange, formaldehyde, asbestosis and even DDT,  they could permit ReVenture as well.  Does anyone think there will be no influence peddling when it comes to regulating, fining and shutting the incinerator down for violations once they are a going concern?

Be aware that 150,000 US Veterans were awarded compensation for cancer and other diseases from exposure to dioxins in Agent Orange in Vietnam . . . thirty years after exposure.   Children in Vietnam are still born with birth defects from dioxins in the soil from Agent Orange after forty years.

No short-term study is going to show the long-term impact of agents like particulate matter, dioxins, mercury, arsenic, cadmium and others.

One ‘expert’ implied that if Charlotte doesn’t burn the waste it would go to the landfill.  Do all these ‘experts’ think that Charlotte citizens are incapable of doing what other cities have done in moving toward ‘zero waste?’

San Francisco recently hit 75% recycling and is moving higher.  Some cities have a goal of total recycling and maximum clean air.  Recycling has been shown to create more jobs than incinerators.   Has the city brought in ‘zero waste’ experts to give their ‘expert’ opinion on dealing with waste?

Charlotte has had bad air quality for years because of ‘not acting’ to disallow pollution.  Just when it looks like the air quality may improve, is Charlotte going to allow an incinerator that is guaranteed to worsen air quality no matter if it meets some ‘de minimus’ standard or not?

Observer Response to “Waste-to-energy beats landfills, experts say”.   (Feb 13) http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/02/13/2058394/waste-to-energy-beats-landfills.html

By William Blackey, M.D. Elkin, N.C.  –  Board Certified in Family Medicine, Fellow American Academy of Family Practice

* September 19th Webinar: The School Flag Program – Protecting Students’ Health through Air Quality Awareness

This is a great program that speaks to the special needs of Charlotte Mecklenburg, Gaston, Union, and Cabarrus County students!

Clean Air Carolina has done some great work in launching and promoting the program – see Clear the Air for Kids.

Help spread the word about the program! Sign up for the free webinar!

School Flag Program Announcement

This webinar is one in a series of webinars developed for the U.S. Department of Educations’ Green Strides Webinar Series.  

The School Flag Program — Protecting Students’ Health Through Air Quality Awareness
Date:  Wednesday September 19th
Time: 2:00-3:00 pm EDT

Register for this free webinar:  https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/356754848

Ellen Wildermann with the U.S. EPA will describe how the School Flag Program can help schools improve the health and wellness of students and staff.

Children’s health protection is an essential component of green, healthy schools.  EPA’s School Flag Program helps the school community be aware of outdoor air quality conditions so teachers, coaches, and students can take protective measures to reduce exposure to air pollution.  

States, districts and schools may attend this webinar to:

·        Discover how the flag program raises awareness of the air we breathe

·        Understand how air pollution can affect the health of children, especially those with asthma

·        Find out recommendations for modifying outdoor activities when air quality has reached unhealthy levels

Learn the simple steps to get the School Flag Program started at your school to ensure healthy learning environments. It’s low cost and easy!


* ReVenture Incinerator Plans Are Back – Keep Mecklenburg Incinerator Free

Just when you thought that it might be safe to breathe in western Mecklenburg County in the future, ReVenture now says that they want to resume plans to build an incinerator complex – TWO INCINERATORS!

John Downey, Senior Staff Writer for the Charlotte Business Journal, recently reported that ReVenture was ready to build its biomass incinerator in Mecklenburg County.

“Plans are back on for a biomass plant at the ReVenture Park, with developer Tom McKittrick building a 1.4-megawatt plant using technology developed by a Locust company. The plant is slated start producing power as soon as mid-January.”

“ReVenture already has signed a contract to sell municipal power supplier ElectriCities 60,000 poultry credits in 2013. That will be almost the entire output of the 1.4-megawatt plant.”

ReVenture had promised that their air permit for the site would be one of the most thoroughly reviewed permits and that there would be public hearings on the permit.

“With that contract in hand and with the plant’s air-quality permit already issued by Mecklenburg County, McKittrick says he hopes to start construction in December.”

For those that may have forgotten about the history of ReVenture, see the Sierra ClubReVenture Key Findings – Part II, Detail Comments on Each of the Key Findings Criteria of the Mecklenburg Solid Waste Management Advisory Board”.

“McKittrick’s ReVenture project has been largely out of the news since long negotiations to sell power and credits from a proposed biomass plant to Duke ended unsuccessfully in the spring. But in an interview Wednesday, he said work has continued on several projects proposed for the 667-acre clean-energy park, to be built on a former Superfund site along the Catawba River.”

Who would want to buy a home next to TWO INCINERATORS?

“ReVenture also has purchased 578 acres adjacent to the energy park to build an eco-friendly residential development.”

ReVenture had promised that they would make details of the project public. We’ve seen this over and over as ReVenture has changed their FUEL SOURCE and their TECHNOLOGY again and againReVenture Abandons “State-of-the-Art Incinerator Technology”.

“He declines to identify the N.C. company that developed the technology he intends to use in the 1.4-megawatt biomass plant.

ReVenture has changed their fuel source many times. Burning chicken waste is dirtier than burning coalReport: Air Pollution and Toxic Hazards Associated with Poultry Litter Incineration

In a separate filing of its own with the commission, Tucker says its project could process chicken waste into such a gas.

Read the full article at:


* Free Family Move Night – The Lorax, Sept 21

Family Move Night – Free!

Friday, September 21st

Green space between Chick-Fil-A and Highway 16

Field opens at 7:15pm

Movie to begin at 8:00pm

We Love Mountain Island Lake will be hosting a Family Movie Night on the evening of Friday, September 21st on the green space between Chick-Fil-A and Highway 16. We’ll be showing The Lorax along with a brief video of the health and environmental issues impacting Mountain Island Lake and our community. More details to come soon. Hope to see you there!

* Out in the Street

To all our brothers and sisters that will be “Out in the Street” next week at the DNC opposing Big Oil and Big Coal, calling for Truly Clean and Renewable Energy, bringing a call for a moral imperative to address the Climate Crisis, ending Corporate Control of Congress, and more.

This is dedicated to you…


March on Wall Street South Information

Sunday, September 2nd
11:00am Rally at Fraizer Park (1201 West 4th Street, Charlotte, NC 28202)
1:00pm March with our contingent in the permitted march route

* Riverbend and ReVenture Park Incinerators Update – #2

Across the U.S., individuals and communities are saying “No” to dirty coal and dirty biomass combustion. Medical authorities are speaking out on the health issues of biomass incinerators. Mecklenburg and Gaston county residents deserve clean air.  We need to work together to close down and clean up Riverbend. We need to work together to stop a ReVenture Park biomass incinerator.

Press Release: Groups Call for End to Taxpayer Subsidies for Biomass Saying It Is “Dirty Energy”

FOR Immediate Release, July 12, 2011

(Download this Press Release here)

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, drsammons@aol.com, 781-799-0014

Mr. Dale Landry, NAACP 5th Vice President,  drlandry11@comcast.net

Dr. Ron Saff, ronsaff@aol.com

Floridians Against Incinerators in Disguise, hopeforcleanwater@yahoo.com

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, nogulfincinerator@gmail.com,



Karen Orr, Chairwoman, www.Energyjustice.net

Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, www.no-burn.org

Reports Referenced
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

#              #              #

* Riverbend and ReVenture Park Incinerators Update – #1

The western part of Mecklenburg County and the eastern part  of Gaston County have some of the worst air quality in the the state and in the country. For decades residents in Gaston and Mecklenburg have been subjected  to air pollution that impacts our air, water and land quality and our health  from sources such as the incineration of coal at the Riverbend coal-fired plant power plant.

Now we are hearing that ReVenture Park wants to continue their plans to build another incinerator to surround the communities, businesses, homes, schools, churches, etc. with toxic air emissions from a biomass incinerator. So I guess it’s time for an update on this issue and the hazards of burning biomass, wood, coal, garbage, natural gas, toxic materials, and more. We’ll share information from experts and the experiences of other communities. We plan to continue this series for as long as ReVenture Park continues their plan to build an incinerator. It may be a long or short series. We hope that it will be a short one.

Here’s a key fact:

  INCINERATORS make waste more toxic and … 

Do not eliminate waste, but change the form of waste into hazardous air emissions and toxic ash.

Convert 30% of the waste burned into toxic ash, which EPA allows to be used as daily landfill cover.

Spread hazardous contamination worldwide; contaminating air, soil, and water.

Are a major source of 210 different dioxin compounds, plus mercury, cadmium, nitrous oxide, hydrogen chloride, sulfuric acid, fluorides, and particulate matter small enough to lodge permanently in the lungs.

Source: http://www.zerowasteamerica.org/Incinerators.htm

So what comes out of the smokestack?

Thanks to the Partnership for Policy Integrity for this excellent technical backgrounder on some of the toxins produced by biomass incineration.

Information on air pollutants

Nitrogen dioxide

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is the indicator species for the NOx group of gases, which includes nitrous acid and nitric acid. It primarily forms when fuels are burned at high temperatures. These acidic gases directly impact respiratory health, and also contribute to formation of ozone and condensable particulate matter. Nationwide, the majority of NO2 is from the transportation sector, but utilities and other sources of combustion account for about 34% of total emissions.

As of January 2010, EPA set a new 1-hour standard for NO2 of 100 ppb in ambient air, and retained the annual average pollution standard of 53 ppb.


A principle component of smog, ground level ozone is formed when nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide (CO), and methane react, energized by UV light. The main sources of NOx and VOCs are industrial facilities, electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents. As a highly reactive oxidant gas, ozone aggravates the airways, causing respiratory distress and exacerbating asthma. It also damages vegetation and is increasingly recognized as a threat to forest health.

EPA has proposed revising its eight-hour standard for ozone from 0.075 ppm to 0.06 – 0.07 ppm, acknowledging that the ozone standards set in 2008 were not as protective as recommended by EPA’s panel of science advisors, the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC). EPA has also proposed a new “seasonal secondary standard” for ozone exposure that represents cumulative exposure during peak ozone season.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2)

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) exposure causes breathing difficulty for people with asthma, and is also implicated in regional haze and acid rain formation. A recent EPA risk assessment for SO2 concludes that definite health risks to asthmatics occur at concentrations significantly lower than the current 24-hour health standard for SO2. The document further notes that “over 20 million people in the U.S. have asthma, and therefore, exposure to SO2 likely represents a significant health issue.” The main sources of SO2 are fossil fuel combustion at power plants and industrial facilities. Along with its direct effects, SO2 also contributes to the formation of fine particulate matter. EPA concluded that a new SO2 standard with a 1-hour averaging time would be more protective. As of June 2, 2010, EPA strengthened the NAAQS for SO2 by adding a 1-hour standard set at 75 ppb.


Fine particle emissions arise from both direct ash emissions from combustion at energy plants, but also form from emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ammonia, and volatile organic compounds. Particulate air pollution has long been known to be associated with increased cardiopulmonary symptoms, asthma attacks, days lost from work due to respiratory disease, emergency room visits, hospitalization rates, and mortality. Two size classes are recognized in regulatory schemes: PM10 and PM2.5, with the numeric value referring to the particle size in microns (a micron is one millionth of a meter). There is no current health standard for PM10; EPA’s 24-hour and annual exposure standards for PM2.5 are 35 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) and 15 µg/m3. EPA’s most recent risk assessment for PM acknowledges that the current standards are insufficiently protective and indicates that the agency will be lowering the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for PM2.5 once more.

The classes of particulate matter classed as “black carbon” are implicated in a recent study as having up to 60% of the climate warming effect of CO2, by both creating “brown clouds” and darkening and thus increasing the heat absorption of snow and ice in polar regions. Controlling soot emissions and thus lessening albedo effects may thus be an even faster way to mitigate sea ice melting than controlling greenhouse gas emissions. A recent UN report found that controlling black carbon emissions and ozone could dramatically reduce global warming and improve human health.


Lead exposure primarily occurs from paint that has not been remediated. Lead exposure in children is linked to a variety of developmental and neurological problems. A recent study concluded that

“long-term trends in population exposure to gasoline lead were found to be remarkably consistent with subsequent changes in violent crime and unwed pregnancy. Long-term trends in paint and gasoline lead exposure are also strongly associated with subsequent trends in murder rates going back to 1900. The findings on violent crime and unwed pregnancy are consistent with published data describing the relationship between IQ and social behavior. The findings with respect to violent crime are also consistent with studies indicating that children with higher bone lead tend to display more aggressive and delinquent behavior. This analysis demonstrates that widespread exposure to lead is likely to have profound implications for a wide array of socially undesirable outcomes.”

EPA recently dropped the NAAQS for lead from 1.5 µg/m3 to 0.15 µg/m3.

Carbon monoxide (CO)

Carbon monoxide is a product of incomplete combustion that when inhaled, interferes with oxygen absorption in the blood. Emissions of CO from biomass boilers generally increase with fuel moisture; “good combustion practices” are frequently cited as the best control for CO emissions. Carbon monoxide can accumulate in closed spaces and could be a problem in the vicinity of improperly ventilated combustion sources. Carbon monoxide is treated under EPA’s “boiler rule” as a proxy for certain organic toxics that are assumed to increase as CO emissions increase.

Hazardous air pollutants

Hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) is the group name for 187 compounds which are known to have highly harmful health or environmental effects. The list includes metals like chromium, lead, and mercury, as well as compounds like dioxins (products of combustion that are widely considered to be among the most toxic chemicals known), benzene (a constituent of gasoline) and formaldehyde. EPA has classified two HAPs as human carcinogens (arsenic and the hexavalent form of chromium, CrVI) and four as probable human carcinogens (cadmium, lead, dioxins/furans, and nickel). All of these HAPs, as well as others, can be emitted in significant amounts by biomass energy facilities that burn “urban wood” as fuel, which contains lead-painted wood, wood treated with copper chromium arsenate, and non-wood materials that exacerbate dioxin/furan formation. Monitoring for these pollutants is rare, but emission levels can be high in the vicinity of specific emitters.


Considered a human carcinogen by EPA, arsenic is highly toxic, and is a principle component of copper-chromium-arsenate (CCA) mixture that was used for pressure-treating lumber. Facilities that proposed to burn waste wood generally rely on visual sorting techniques to remove arsenic-containing pressure-treated wood from the CDD that it burns. However, such detection can be difficult, as noted by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection website, which states

“You can usually recognize pressure treated wood by its greenish tint, especially on the cut end, and staple-sized slits that line the wood. However, the greenish tint fades with time, and not all pressure treated wood has the slits”.


Chromium is also a constituent of pressure-treated wood, and is toxic, particularly in the hexavalent form (CR VI). EPA’s website states: “The respiratory tract is the major target organ for chromium (VI) toxicity, for acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) inhalation exposures. Shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing were reported from a case of acute exposure to chromium (VI), while perforations and ulcerations of the septum, bronchitis, decreased pulmonary function, pneumonia, and other respiratory effects have been noted from chronic exposure.  Human studies have clearly established that inhaled chromium (VI) is a human carcinogen, resulting in an increased risk of lung cancer.  Animal studies have shown hexavalent chromium to cause lung tumors via inhalation exposure.” EPA’s conversion constant for the proportion of total chromium from biomass burning that is emitted in the hexavalent form is 56%.


Mercury is a significant and dangerous contaminant that damages neurological development and other organ functions. It accumulates up food chains, presenting the greatest threat to humans and fish-eating birds like loons. Mercury is transported in the atmosphere but a significant amount from a point source can be deposited nearby, contaminating soils and water bodies. Biomass burning can emit surprisingly high amounts of mercury; for instance, the 21.5 MW Hu Honua facility planned in Hawaii would emit about 10 lb of mercury per year. This emissions rate is about 0.053 lb/kWh, more than 21 times the 0.0025 lb/kWh emissions rate at the Mount Tom coal plant in Holyoke, Massachusetts. To be sure, the rate at the coal plant is this low because the facility has installed expensive emissions control equipment – equipment that biomass developers refuse to install because it is not “cost effective”.


Dioxins/furans are “persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic” (PBT) compounds that are created as by-products of chemical manufacturing, and also from combustion. Dioxin/furans are known to affect hormone levels and functions, as well as affecting fetal development, the immune system, and reproduction. They are toxic at levels that already exist in the environment. EPA states: “Because dioxins are widely distributed throughout the environment in low concentrations, are persistent and bioaccumulated, most people have detectable levels of dioxins in their tissues. These levels, in the low parts per trillion, have accumulated over a lifetime and will persist for years, even if no additional exposure were to occur. This background exposure is likely to result in an increased risk of cancer and is uncomfortably close to levels that can cause subtle adverse non-cancer effects in animals and humans.”