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Meanwhile Burlington ignores its own 1.5 coal plants.
According to the EPA, McNeil biomass pumps out 400,000 tons of CO2 per year at a rate per unit of energy produced at 150% of a coal plant and delusional Burlington waves a magic wand and pretends it is "green energy" and "carbon neutral".
No it isn't.
78 Scientists to EPA, Biomass Bad for Forests & Carbon:
90 Scientists Letter to Congress “Count Biomass Carbon”:
Biomass Carbon Realities, Dr Harmon, Dr Searchinger, Dr Moomaw:
Logging, Bio-energy and Carbon Emissions:
Biomass Never Carbon Neutral From Trees:
Biomass: Biogenic Carbon, Same impacts:
Science Journal “Serious Biomass Accounting Error”
Science Journal “Accounting Error” explained:
European Environment Agency, Biomass Accounting Error:
“Biomass not carbon neutral” Schulze et al:
Biomass: Dr Eric Johnson, “Biomass Carbon Neutrality” Mythbuster:
NRDC: Don’t use Forests for Fuel:
There is much more science as plain as the nose on our faces for anyone interest in biomass facts instead of dangerous industry fiction.
By the way, this is NOT an endorsement of coal, but just used to show how hypocritical Burlington really is.
Much of the excuse given for increased wood burning is that it is “local”, but local pollution from wood is no better than local pollution from fossil fuels, it is just wrapped in feel good “green” delusion. In fact it is worse. Wood is 25% more carbon intense than oil, and 100% more than gas for heat, and is 50% more carbon intense than coal, 200% more than gas for electric. http://www.maforests.org/BioCheck.pdf
It can’t just be local, it has to be clean. What do you think West Virginians think of their coal? Good local energy!
Burning trees just because it is local is just as dumb, and anyone who claims they care about carbon emissions but wants to burn more trees is either a hypocrite or dumber than a stump.
I am NOT defending coal, or fossil fuels, just using the data to show how bad wood burning really is. The fact is, and always will be, burning wood is dirtier than burning fossil fuels, and further cutting of forests is not “green”. Just because one does not want to hear the facts does not change the physics and no amount of self-deluding greenwashing will change these are inconvenient truths.
Such policy madness and resulting public anger often occurs when someone has their hands in the cookie jar. With biomass, maybe the fact that Chris Recchia, Governor Shumlin’s Secretary of ANR was previously the executive director of The Biomass Energy Resource Center is the reason for such counterproductive public policy?
In summary, we need to stop following self-serving vested interests off the cliff and thoughtfully tap the boundless genuinely clean and green energy from the sun above, the earth below (geothermal), properly scaled and located wind and hydro, and reduce energy use through easily implemented conservation and efficiency measures.
As a citizen who believes we need to switch to genuinely clean and green energy, and that we should protect and restore the environment, I believe we are lucky to have Annette uncompromisingly fighting for the environment, and us.
If we were to rely on what has sadly become of heavily compromised Green Inc, we are doomed. No doubt there are well intentioned people within these organizations, but too many of these groups have sadly become impotent shadows of themselves due to their addiction to corporate/foundation money and careerist leadership by corporate players.
Consequently, “renewable” energy has too often morphed into a “green” gravy train for vested interests rather than something that actually helps the environment.
One important example is the tree-burning, aka. biomass madness.
Vermont is poised to force citizens to subsidize increased cutting and burning of forests allegedly to “help” the climate. Wood burning is a large portion of the so called “clean” energy plan, yet this is one of the dirtiest forms of energy that exists (even with the newest technology) and is significantly more carbon intense than fossil fuels. http://www.maforests.org/BioCheck.pdf
Supposedly “green” Vermont already has one of the highest rates of asthma in the entire country http://healthvermont.gov/research/asthma/d… in large part because Vermont has more wood burning pollution than any state in the country: http://www.vnews.com/news/16011119-95/vt-w…
The idea that increased forest logging and burning will “lower” atmospheric carbon emissions is delusional thinking insanity. Such delusional thinking includes McNeil biomass in Burlington which emits 450,000 TONS of CO2 each year according to the EPA, but Burlington waves a magic wand and pretends it doesn’t exist.
Ha, ha! "Green City", what a joke.
Burlington electric cuts and burns literally millions of trees each year (not waste) to fuel the McNeil biomass burner that spews all that "green" carbon from those once growing now vaporized trees. Really.
More biomass delusion in the Greenwash Mountain State.
Burning wood, even with the best air quality control techniques is dirtier than fossil fuels for conventional pollutants, and cutting and burning green trees for energy is worse than even coal for atmospheric carbon impacts despite the persistent militant ignorance to the contrary.
I am not defending fossil fuels, just using the example to show how dirty wood burning really is.
By the way, "green" Vermont has the highest asthma rate in the country according to the CDC. No doubt, part of that is from all that wood burning.
There is a pile of recent science stating the obvious, that cutting and burning forests for energy, as McNeil does, increases atmospheric carbon levels, but don't let the facts interrupt a trip to the land of make believe, as exemplified in Burlington's "Climate Plan" which does not count McNeils 400,000 tons of annual CO2 emissions (according to the EPA).
Here is some inconvenient truths from Bill Keeton (at UVM) and others (by no means tree-huggers) regarding biomass energy and carbon impacts:
"The physics of the greenhouse effect is indifferent as to the origin of the pollutant. Once a molecule of CO2 is in the atmosphere its heating capacity is the same regardless of its source. It is the overall C budget and the net atmospheric concentration of greenhouses gases that are of concern. If greater use of wood energy has the unintended consequence of contributing to an increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations, then decisions to switch to biogenic fuels should be guided by careful accounting to determine net carbon fluxes to and from the atmosphere.
An earlier letter to the US House of Representatives and US Senate (Schlesingeret al., 2010) from 90 American scientists stated that ‘Although fossil fuel emissions are reduced or eliminated, the combustion of biomass replaces fossil emissions with its own emissions (which may even be higher per unit of energy because of the lower energy to carbon ratio of biomass)’. More research is needed to determine which biomass energy technology scenarios and forest ecosystems are most likely to result in greater biogenic emissions than the equivalent fossil fuel energy source. Recent work in the United States and Europe supports the Schlesingeret al.(2010) statement (e.g. Walker et al., 2010; Bird et al., 2011; McKechnieet al., 2011).
In addition, if biomass harvests involve living trees that would otherwise have remained alive and growing, the short-term net impact on the atmosphere will be greater than if logging residue or waste wood were used. All wood is not equal in terms of temporal impact to atmospheric GHG levels. Therefore, the use of wood for energy needs a strong quantitative basis ensuring policy based on evidence rather than opinion.
Wood energy harvests encompass a wide range of silvicultural treatments, but have the potential to increase the overall intensity and frequency of harvesting. This can reduce the net amount of carbon stored in forest biomass at any moment in time at landscape scales, particularly in natural forest systems with low risk of catastrophic disturbances and relatively slow growth rates. If overall harvesting intensity increases to meet new demand for wood energy, carbon stocks on the landscape can be depressed to a lower equilibrium storage condition therefore increasing overall atmospheric CO2 even when considering the substitution benefits (Harmon et al., 1990; Smithwick et al., 2006; McKechnieet al., 2011).
When we also consider the amount of biogenic C remaining in the atmosphere as a result of historical global conversion of forests, prairies, peatlands and wetlands (Birdsey et al., 2006; Rhemtullaet al., 2009; van der Werf et al., 2009), it becomes clear that all sources of additional C emissions should be evaluated based upon their near term contribution to the atmosphere and their potential for re-sequestration by new biological growth. This historical debt also negates the argument that biogenic carbon can be banked in advance of consumption for energy (e.g. Sedjo, 2011). Again, what matters is the amount of CO2in the atmosphere, regardless of the source."
John S. Gunn, David J. Ganz, and William S. Keeton 2012. Biogenic vs. geologic carbon emissions and forest biomass energy production. GCB Bioenergy (2012) 4, 239–242, doi: 10.1111/j.1757-1707.2011.01127.x
I like a nice warm fire as much as the next person, but it is militantly delusional to think that burning wood is "clean" and "green" in spite of all the easily obtainable facts.
By their own admission, they are logging green trees for biomass fuel in Vermont, not using "waste" wood, and the carbon footprint of burning trees is worse than burning fossil fuels, no matter how inconvenient that may be for ones personal beliefs.
To continue to believe otherwise, in face of the overwhelming science, and common sense, is to be as militantly ignorant as global warming deniers.
A letter from 90 respected scientists asks congress not to “cook the books' when accounting for CO2 from bio-energy stating “clearing or cutting forests for energy, either to burn trees directly in power plants or to replace forests with bio-energy crops, has the net effect of releasing otherwise sequestered carbon into the atmosphere, just like the extraction and burning of fossil fuels. That creates a carbon debt, may reduce ongoing carbon uptake by the forest, and as a result may increase net greenhouse gas emissions for an extended time period and thereby undercut greenhouse gas reductions needed over the next several decades.”
This “critical accounting error” identified by Princeton University scientists, of ignoring carbon emissions from tree burning is leading to a false reduction of carbon levels on paper but an actual increase in atmospheric carbon levels (http://www.maforests.org/SCIENCE.pdf) and igniting a “carbon time bomb” according to European scientists. (http://www.birdlife.org/eu/pdfs/carbon_bom…)
The European Environment Agency identified the same accounting error, stating, “It is widely assumed that biomass combustion would be inherently “carbon neutral” because it only releases carbon taken from the atmosphere during plant growth. This assumption is not correct… If bio-energy production replaces forests, reduces forest stocks or reduces forest growth, which would otherwise sequester more carbon, it can increase the atmospheric carbon concentration. The potential consequences of this bio-energy accounting error are immense."
The “Manomet” study, which used overtly biomass friendly forest cutting assumptions and the results still demonstrated that life cycle carbon dioxide emissions of tree burning biomass electric facilities are worse than coal for 45-75 years, and are worse than natural gas for more than a century. Manomet also demonstrated that tree burning biomass heat facilities are worse than oil for 15-30 years and worse than natural gas for 60-90 years.
See slide 13: http://www.maforests.org/SUMMARY%20mass_bi…
National Public Radio reported the Manomet study results, “A new study has found that wood-burning power plants using trees and other “biomass” from New England forests releases more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than coal over time.”
Again, I am not speaking in favor of fossil fuels, but just pointing out the dangerous outcomes of continuing and pursuing self-serving hypocritical false solutions.
Meanwhile, Vermont, and its "green" colleges, including Middlebury where McKibben hails from, continue to defend and implement burning of trees for energy, which is even worse than fossil fuels for carbon impacts according to the science, and common sense for that matter.
But it is "local" they like to say. Well yes, coal is local to West Virginians also, but it is still a carbon mess, just like burning Vermont's trees for energy.
This is NOT a defense of fossil fuels, just a reminder of the hypocrisy gong on in the "greenwash" mountain state when it comes to tree-fueled biomass energy and carbon impacts.
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