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Every year 24,000 people die prematurely because of pollution from coal-fired power plants.

Every year 38,000 heart attacks occur because of pollution from coal-fired power plants.

Every year 12,000 hospital admissions and 550,000 people suffering asthma attacks result from power plant pollution.

Every year, coal-fired power plants release 48 tons of mercury nationwide.

Power plants release over 40% of total U.S. C02 emissions, a primary contributor to global warming...

...and yet the coal industry wants you to believe that building more coal fired power plants in Michigan is a good idea!

...and now utilities want to burn (as biomass) our trees that capture and store harmful carbon dioxide and produce the oxygen we need to live

 

“Green” is the New Green
Green is the color and the future of Jobs and Energy in America. “Smart” Money today is investing in green energy, energy efficiency, and conservation technology. We are committed to increasing the supply of sustainable, smoke-free & fuel-free energy; delivering real solutions to climate change and working to create new jobs and a healthier economy.
It is our goal to publish the most current and factual research available. We endeavor to help develop and inform readers about new job opportunities, to support the ecological systems that sustain all life on this planet, and to protect human health and welfare. We strive to offer readers an opportunity to learn about sensible solutions to the jobs and energy challenges confronting the world today.

All citations published at this web site are hyper-linked back to the original source whenever possible to assure credibility and quality of information. The source may be viewed by clicking areas in bold type. Thank you for visiting.

Get Involved

A Citizens Guide to Participating in Michigan's Air Pollution Control Program
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) realizes that an effective public participation process depends on the contributions of its citizens. That is why we encourage you to be actively involved in this process by sharing your opinions and ideas about air quality issues that matter to you, your family, and your community. The public participation process is the way in which government agencies can address your viewpoints, concerns, and preferences about certain decisions or issues that are made within your community.

Facebook groupBiomass: a Few Burning Questions | FACEBOOK GROUP
Environmental groups, forest biologists and green energy advocates are endeavoring to stop the construction of more biomass burning plants in Michigan which threaten our forests, your health, and Michigan ecosystems. Please join us in our effort to put an end to additional biomass burning in Michigan. Biomass@JobsAndEnergy.com

The Grand Vision Energy Working Group
The Grand Vision Energy Working Group will be holding upcoming public information forums at the library. Watch this space for dates and times. Visit the Grand Vision Energy Working Group by Clicking Here: http://groups.google.com

 

Where biomass burning is popular, forests are consumed or disappearing:

Ireland has lost 96.4% of it's original forests. None of its old forests today remain.
The Netherlands has lost 95.2% of it's original forests. None of its old forests today remain.
The United Kingdom has lost 94% of it's original forests. None of its old forests today remain.
Belgium has lost 79% of it's original forests. None of its old forests today remain.
Germany has lost 73.7% of it's original forests. None of its old forests today remain.
Norway has lost 9.6% of it's original forests. None of its old forests today remain.
Sweden has lost 14% of it's original forests. Today just 2.9% of its old forests remain.
The United States has lost 39.8% of it's original forests. Today just 6.3% of its old forests remain. (Between 1990 and 2005 the U.S. is down 1% for primary forests, and down 0.8% for all natural forests)

The fact is all of the biomass friendly countries are importers of chipped wood biomass from other countries. They have already discovered what Michigan has yet to learn. Biomass burning, and contemporary demands upon woody resources, is NOT sustainable under current forest management guidelines.

If we don't change direction soon, we'll end up where we're headed

Headlines

All in For Mother Earth in Chicago | Live broadcast at Noon 11-February
Dr. Lora Chamberlain, a Family Physician and Progressive Activist in Chicago, interviews our very own Lee Sprague from the Jobs and Energy Group and Jim Dulzo at MLUI. Under discussion is Enbridge Pipeline (Line 5) that courses under the Mackinaw Straights. There was a big meeting this past week up in Traverse Bay about this pipeline, supposedly to quash the residents fears about the dangers of a spill in Lake Michigan -- did the fears get quashed? Or was it another Enbridge cover up -- lets hear from the folks that went to the meeting. National Wildlife Federation put up this video on the pipeline after a dive to see its condition - "Sunken Hazard" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCMfDDcyRb0 a petroleum pipeline that runs under the Mackinaw Straits. If you missed the show? Look here for the upcoming podcast. "All in For Mother Earth" may also be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AllInForMotherEarth

Climate Panel Cites Near Certainty on Warming
An international panel of scientists has found with near certainty that human activity is the cause of most of the temperature increases of recent decades, and warns that sea levels could conceivably rise by more than three feet by the end of the century if emissions continue at a runaway pace.

2040 or Bust
If you’re an oil exec, the world is a rosy place -- and I’m not talking about the pink haze of heat that’s been rising from the burning American West all summer. I’m talking about energy consumption where the news just couldn’t be cheerier. Despite declines in North America and Europe, according to a new study by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), world consumption of petroleum products in 2012 rose to record heights, a staggering 88.9 million barrels a day.

Research Cites Role of Warming in Extremes
Scientists have long predicted that global warming will worsen heat waves and torrential rainfalls. In some parts of the world, that is exactly what happened last year.

Why Big Green Groups Can Be More Damaging Than Right-Wing Climate Deniers
In a new interview Klein says that it’s important to question why some big green groups have been so unwilling to follow science to its logical conclusions.

Michigan Electric Co-op to Solicit PAC Dollars Through Billing Insert
Typically, Democracy Tree doesn’t publish on a Friday evening, but today’s snail mail rendered a shockingly blatant example of what money in politics has come to in our state, and to not write about it would be criminal. No, it wasn’t a campaign brochure or a political action committee mailer, instead it was Michigan Country Lines magazine — a publication sent to all members of various rural electric cooperatives. Each co-op customizes parts of the monthly for their local readership, including a letter from their particular electric company’s leadership, titled “Manager’s Message”. Of the nine co-ops comprising the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, one had a very disturbing message for its members.

Safety Implications of Coal and Biomass Fuel Mixes
On February 12, 2012, a fire broke out at the biomass-fired 750-MW Tilbury power station, which is owned by RWE npower, a UK energy company. The fired raged for two days. More than 120 firefighters were deployed. This plant had recently been converted from coal to biomass and was billed as a pioneer in its use of biomass technology.

Greening Downriver
Why Wyandotte Michigan Is Kicking Your Town’s Ass When It Comes To Clean Energy. All told, Wyandotte is now producing 18 percent of its energy from renewables, and has projects in the pipeline now that should bring that number closer to 30 or 40 percent in the next several years.

“Sustainable” Biomass: a Modern Myth
The main focus of this report is on the nature, effectiveness and feasibility of biomass sustainability standards— both those proposed by the Government and those which are already being developed by industry.

The Hidden Costs of Electricity: Comparing the Hidden Costs of Power Generation Fuels PDF
This is the fourth report commissioned by the Civil Society Institute in an effort to advance a realistic and sustainable energy policy for the U.S. electricity sector. CSI, with the expertise of Synapse Energy Economics, seeks to examine and make accessible to policy makers and the public the shortcomings of the prevailing, business-as-usual approach advanced by both political parties. We do not have the financial resources, the water and air resources or the time to waste in our national search for practical and actionable steps toward a safe and sustainable energy future.

CO2 Emissions Cost Way More Than You Think
Economics for Equity and Environment (E3), the network of economists that published the report (PDF), found that in 2010, one ton of CO2 in the atmosphere did up to $893 in economic damage. By 2050, the group says, these costs could rise up to $1,550 per ton of CO2 emitted. (A ton of CO2 is approximately what you release into the atmosphere by driving a car for two-and-a-half months.) While the government agencies acknowledge that their estimates are "imperfect and incomplete," E3 says they also omit "many of the biggest risks associated with climate change" and downplay "the impact of our current emissions on future generations."

The World at 7 Billion People: How Much More Growth Can the Planet Support?
With global population expected to surpass 7 billion people this year, the staggering impact on an overtaxed planet is becoming more and more evident. Where we go, nature retreats. We are entering an epoch scientists have begun calling the Anthropocene, a break with the geologic past marked by humanity's long-term alteration of the natural world and its biota. We are inadvertently bringing on the sixth mass extinction not just because our appetites are vast and our technologies powerful, but because we occupy or manipulate most of the land in every continent except Antarctica. We appropriate anywhere from 24 percent to nearly 40 percent of the photosynthetic output of the planet for our food and other purposes, and more than half of its accessible renewable freshwater runoff.

Insiders Sound an Alarm
Natural gas companies have been placing enormous bets on the wells they are drilling, saying they will deliver big profits and provide a vast new source of energy for the United States. But the gas may not be as easy and cheap to extract from shale formations deep underground as the companies are saying, according to hundreds of industry e-mails and internal documents and an analysis of data from thousands of wells. “I think we have a big problem,” states Deborah Rogers, a member of the advisory committee of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Energy executives, industry lawyers, state geologists and market analysts voice skepticism about lofty forecasts and question whether companies are intentionally, and even illegally, overstating the productivity of their wells and the size of their reserves.

Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield is Working to Weaken Environmental Protection
Republican Congressman Ed Whitfield from Kentucky, who serves as Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, has made it clear that he will do everything in his power to push several bills that will strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its ability to protect the public from pollution spewing from utility plants. Whitfield joins the chorus of Republicans and industry leaders who claim that emission standards are too costly for businesses and, as a result, will cost the economy desperately needed jobs. The specific rule that Whitfield is working to repeal involves standards that would require utilities to install devices to capture as much CO2 as possible from industrial boilers and waste incinerators, a move the EPA estimates would prevent thousands of premature deaths from heart attacks and respiratory illnesses every year.

American Lung Association Report Highlights Toxic Health Threat of Coal-fired Power Plants
Washington, D.C. (March 8, 2011)— The American Lung Association today released Toxic Air: The Case for Cleaning Up Coal-fired Power Plants, a new report that documents the range of hazardous air pollutants emitted from power plants and the urgent need to clean them up to protect public health. The report highlights the wide range of uncontrolled pollutants from these plants. “It’s time that we end the ‘toxic loophole’ that has allowed coal-burning power plants to operate without any federal limits on emissions of mercury, arsenic, dioxin, acid gases such as hydrogen chloride and other dangerous pollutants,” said Charles D. Connor, president and CEO of the American Lung Association. “Power plant pollution kills people,” said Connor. “It threatens the brains and nervous system of children. It can cause cancer, heart attacks and strokes.”

The Sky Really is Falling
The rapid and terrifying acceleration of global warming, which is disfiguring the ecosystem at a swifter pace than even the gloomiest scientific studies predicted a few years ago, has been confronted by the power elite with two kinds of self-delusion. There are those, many of whom hold elected office, who dismiss the science and empirical evidence as false. There are others who accept the science surrounding global warming but insist that the human species can adapt. Our only salvation—the rapid dismantling of the fossil fuel industry—is ignored by both groups. And we will be led, unless we build popular resistance movements and carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience, toward collective self-annihilation by dimwitted pied pipers and fools.

'The Last Mountain': The Fight Against Coal | film
Right now in Tennessee, there are four active mountaintop removal mining operations and 13 such permits pending. Each of them is in East Tennessee, clustered along the Appalachian side of the Cumberland Plateau, which is home to one of the largest and most biodiverse forest systems in the world. It's not the kind of place you'd expect to find coal companies dynamiting the tops off the mountains. I debated Don Blankenship, of Massey Coal, a year ago. During that debate I asked him, "Is it possible for your company to make a profit without breaking the law?" He said no, it's not. During the previous five years, Massey has violated the Clean Water Act more than 67,000 times, and has accumulated tens of thousands of violations of mining laws and safety laws—this is a criminal enterprise.

Coal Cares Offers Free Inhalers to Children
Why Free Inhalers? Because COAL CARES. Coal Cares™ is a brand-new initiative, to reach out to American youngsters with asthma and to help them keep their heads high in the face of those who would treat them with less than full dignity. For kids who have no choice but to use an inhaler, Coal Cares™ lets them inhale with pride.

Preserving God’s creation is vital | Rev. John D. Schleicher bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Legislation to ban the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act recently has been introduced in the U.S. Congress. The House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton, has been front and center in this issue. As a bishop of the North/ West Lower Michigan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, I want to express my concern about the damaging effects of such possible deregulation. The ELCA has long lifted up the care of God’s creation as an important component of our reverence and gratitude toward God, and our love and service to those in need.

The GOP Has Declared War on the Environment
Republicans are trying to take down the EPA and with it environmental regulation that seeks to protect our air, water, food and health. Many who follow environmental issues find themselves routinely disappointed with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its failure to adequately protect the environment (and thus the health of the American people). Even with the EPA acting as environmental cop on the beat, the U.S. is still home to fish too contaminated to eat, dead zones off our coasts (such as one the size of Massachusetts in the Gulf of Mexico), and an unthinkable amount of pesticides applied to our lands. For a preview of the House Republican agenda over the next two years, one need look no further than the over 1,900 pages of responses Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. received when he asked heads of industry about regulatory burdens they wished to see lifted.

Congress v. The Environment: The House Is On Fire
As I write this, members of the House of Representatives continue to debate and move their way through votes on hundreds of amendments to the chamber's government spending bill. Once the amendments are voted on and settled, the whole House will cast a final vote on the entire bill package with all the passed amendments. Then the Senate takes its turn, crafting a spending bill of its own. The two chambers must then confer and agree on one bill that funds the federal government by March 4 -- or the government must shut down. This is seen as a follow through on a campaign promise for many new House members who told their constituents they'd cut government spending at any cost. But did the constituents realize the cost was their own lives and health? Many of the programs and agencies on the House guillotine are the very programs that protect the water Americans drink and the air they breathe, among other health and health-care protections.

NREL Releases Feed-in Tariff Guide
A new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) examines the growth and efficacy of FITs and focuses on how these policies can be used in the U.S. The policy is known for spurring dramatic growth of renewable energy in Europe during the past decade. At 144 pages, the report, "A Policymaker's Guide to Feed-in Tariff Policy Design," is the longest piece of work any US government agency has ever published on feed-in tariffs. The report's internal governmental and external peer review alone took more than a year.

Five Awards For the World's Most Heinous Climate Villains
As the world heats up and extreme weather increases there are a bunch of high-profile people who just don't get it, are handsomely rewarded not to get it, or both.

Study Says Coal Plants Cost Chicagoans Millions In Health Damages
According to the study the plants cause more than $127 million in health damages yearly. Particulate matter released into the air causes cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, heart attacks, premature death and more.

Money questions for Wolverine
Oct 08, 2010—Another large retirement payout by the member-owned utility pushing to build a $1.3 billion coal-fired power plant in Rogers City is raising more questions about how the firm spends its money. In recent years, Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative Inc. in Cadillac has spent more than $20 million on its proposed Rogers City coal plant, with no guarantee it will be built. Last year the cooperative and its sister rural electric cooperatives in the region came under scrutiny for pricey executive compensation packages paid to a few of its leaders in 2007. Now comes word that, in 2008, the not-for-profit Wolverine paid an additional $2.3 million to retired chief executive Thomas Stevenson.

Shocking Negligence: Gas Companies Drilling in Pennsylvania Have Committed Nearly 1,500 Environmental Violations in Just Two Years
August 5, 2010—Since 2008, Pennsylvanians whose property sits atop the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation have suffered through enough environmental problems to clutter an encyclopedia: A is for arsenic, found in soil at concentrations of 2,600 times what's recommended. M is for methane -- enough to blow up a concrete well. X is for the toxin xylene. Et cetera. Sometimes troubles like these occur naturally. But more and more often, they have become the M.O. of an increasingly reckless natural gas industry -- one that's been exempt from nearly a dozen important environmental laws since 2005. A report published Monday by Pennsylvania Land Trust vividly illustrates the breadth of the gas industry's complicity in drilling accidents across the state. According to the findings, 43 gas companies operating in Pennsylvania were responsible for nearly 1,500 environmental violations between Jan. 1, 2008 and July 25, 2010.

EPA Petitioned to Correct Biomass Mistake
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition today urging the Environmental Protection Agency to correct scientific errors in how it calculates greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that burn trees and other wood products known as “biomass.” The petition, filed under the federal Data Quality Act, challenges EPA’s unscientific, erroneous assumption that burning trees for energy is “carbon neutral” and has no effect on climate change. The petition asks EPA to correct statements about the “carbon neutrality” of biomass in its annual inventory of greenhouse gas emissions in light of abundant scientific information showing that assumption is incorrect. “Burning America’s forests for energy isn’t clean, isn’t green and certainly isn’t carbon neutral,” said Center attorney Kevin Bundy. “Biomass emits as much or more carbon dioxide than coal, and forests can take decades or even centuries to pull that carbon dioxide back out of the atmosphere after being logged. In the short term — the period most critical to averting the worst impacts of climate change — converting the carbon stored in trees into global warming pollution makes no scientific or policy sense.”

Unanswered questions cost TCL&P
Despite a lot of requests that Traverse City Light & Power carefully consider the full impact of these proposed plants on the forests and pollution, Light & Power declined to do a complete environmental review. The news that the biomass plants are on hold and that Light & Power will look at natural gas opens the window for all alternatives to get consideration. What was most troubling in the article announcing the hold on biomass is Light & Power's suggestion that the problem was its inability to sell the plan to the public. That misses the boat entirely. An intelligent and informed public raised many questions that officials in Traverse City dodged or declined to answer. Public officials thought the right thing to do was to hire people to convince the public to go along with a project instead of opening up discussion and answering the many valid questions raised. This is an object lesson about what our representative democracy is about — the decision-makers are tasked with making hard decisions, but their first job is to make sure they have asked and answered all the right questions, not to make a decision and then try to figure how to sell it.

View the Exciting and Lively Traverse City Light & Power Board Meeting from 6/22/10
Traverse City Light and Power is finally exploring their opportunities. Start watching at 57-minutes into the meeting where Jim Carruthers brings up some points and asks some questions that the community wants and needs answers to. Light and Power appears to be putting their focus on building a natural gas fueled power plant at the Village (the former State Hospital grounds). TCL&P will now have to address the health risk emissions pose to the residents of the Village, as well as the patients and staff of Munson hospital. Placing combusion and emission sources near populated centers is not healthy. Residential values also fall near power generating plants. All factors that will need additional consideration.

Dr. Sammons: a Forum Focusing on health issues related to biomass energy | LISTEN TO PRESENTATION
June 22, 2010—Dr. William Sammons, a national medical expert, discussed possible health implications associated with wood-burning energy generation. Dr. William Sammons, a pediatrician and author, added Traverse City to his national speaking tour after Traverse City Light & Power pursued plans to build one or more biomass power plants. Government officials created biomass power plant emissions rules about four years ago, Sammons said. Since then, experts published more than 3,000 medical articles about biomass' harmful impacts, including connections to increased cases of breathing and cardiac problems, as well as cancer. But changes haven't been made to how such plants are permitted, he said. "The regulatory system hasn't caught up with current medical knowledge. That's part of the bind we're in right now." Research has demonstrated that biomass burning for energy creates health risks from the emissions, is dirty, and ultimately expensive! LISTEN | DOWNLOAD

Photo ©2010 Utopian Empire Creativeworks
IN THIS PHOTO, THE GULF OIL SPILL IS ILLUSTRATED OVER A MAP OF MICHIGAN

Dan Scripps, [Former] Representative for the 101st. District Presents Legislation to Ban Drilling in the Great Lakes | Listen to Audio
Traverse City—Representative Dan Scripps announces legislation that will constitutionally ban drilling in the Great Lakes. While drilling in the lakes is already prohibited, it is a law that could be reversed at any time legislatively. This legislation would amend the Michigan constitution to permanently ban drilling. Michigan would be the first Great Lakes state to permanently ban drilling. The legislation will have to pass the Michigan House and Senate, and then the prohibition would appear on the November ballot, giving Michigan voters the right to decide the issue. Rep. Scripps is joined by members of the sport fishing community, as well as the council chairman of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians and other allies and supporters. DontDrillMILakes.com

It's Only Smoke | A SPECIAL "JOBS AND ENERGY" REPORT
Jobs and Energy examines smoke and how biomass incineration may inpact the health of people living near biomass power plants.

EPA “Maximum Achievable Control Technology” vs Maximum Industry Profits?
With mercury emissions no longer exempted, mercury must be controlled as dictated under the Clean Air Act. This law requires that emissions be reduced as much as possible using the best technology currently available. During her term as EPA administrator, Christie Todd Whitman stated that this requirement means reducing mercury power plant emissions to a total of 5 tons from all plants by 2007. Depending on which of the proposed rules goes into effect, the EPA only plans to cut emissions to between 30 and 34 tons by 2010 and 15 tons by 2018. This clearly does not satisfy the requirements of the Clean Air Act. The potential that EPA now has for improving air quality is great, but it is necessary that true MACT standard be set, as the law mandates. Unless this happens, EPA will have shown once again that they are willing to sacrifice public health by caving to industry pressure.

Biomass plants could be devastated under proposed EPA ruling
8 June 2010 - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new Boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards which would classify biomass boiler units, conventionally considered multi-fuel boilers, as incinerators and would be subject to new emission limits for mercury, hydrogen chloride, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and dioxin. The new proposed ruling is originally part of the Clean Air Act of 1990. The Biomass Power Association (BPA), President Bob Cleaves said that if the new rule is enacted, 100 percent of boilers in the U.S. will have to do more work emitting less pollutants. “The end result of this rule is that EPA is going to require what we think will be very, very expensive technology to achieve levels for these air emission standards,” said Cleaves. “As it relates to the biomass industry specifically, the standards are probably unachievable.” Cleaves said that without biomass plants in the state, the agriculture waste being used at biomass plants would diverted to landfills, which could cause more methane emissions [Editor: Landfill gas (methane) is believed by many to be cleaner than biomass burning]. Cleaves said that there is no future for biomass technology in the U.S., plants will close. As for new plants being developed, The Biomass Power Association thinks that if the Maximum Achievable Control Technology ruling is enacted, all biomass energy development will be halted. EPA will issue a final ruling after a 45-day public comment period that began on June 7. FULL MANOMET CENTER REPORT

Study finds wood burning releases more greehouse gas than coal
Last year the state of Massachusetts suspended licenses for new wood-burning power plants and commissioned a study on the environmental impacts of burning wood for electricity. That study, conducted by the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, has now been released and it shows that, per unit, wood releases more climate-damaging gases than coal. The study also found that there would not be enough sustainably harvested wood available to power even one biomass plant in Massachusetts. Michigan’s 2008 renewable energy law provides incentives for the development of wood-fired power plants, and several are in the planning stages here. At hearings about proposed wood-fired plants in Traverse City and Mancelona, concerned citizens have questioned the carbon neutrality of wood burning and raised concerns about the potential impact on regional forests and air quality. [Editor: In spite of biomass industry supporters claims to the contrary, independent Michigan Forest Ecologist's are indicating that Michigan does not have enough forestland to provide a sustainable source of wood fiber to support current and proposed biomass incineration facilities in Michigan.]

EPA Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Hazardous Waste Combustors | including toxic biomass
This rule announces the final action regarding the issues for which EPA granted reconsideration and addresses comments received in response to the September 2007 notice. As a result of this reconsideration process, EPA is: 1. revising the new source particulate matter standards for cement kilns and incinerators that burn hazardous waste; 2. amending the particulate matter detection system provisions and revising the health-based compliance alternative provisions for total chlorine; 3. identifying the emissions standards EPA intends to defend in pending litigation...

Burning Biomass for Power is Dirtier Than Coal
Thursday, June 10, 2010—A scientific study released Thursday that showed burning locally harvested trees for electricity creates more greenhouse gas than coal-fired plants is dampening the state’s enthusiasm for some biomass facilities. The six-month study shows that, by 2050, biomass-fired electricity would result in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, compared to coal-fired electricity. “Now that we know that electricity from biomass harvested from New England forests is not ‘carbon neutral’ in a time frame that makes sense given our legal mandate to cut greenhouse gas emissions, we need to re-evaluate our incentives for biomass,” he said in a statement accompanying the report. The report found that harvesting trees for biomass facilities could have "significant localized impacts on the landscape, including aesthetic impacts of locally heavy harvesting as well as potential impacts on recreation and tourism." "The sobering conclusion is that Massachusetts cannot produce very much new energy from forest resources while also protecting the health of our forests and reducing greenhouse gas emissions," said Sue Reid, a staff attorney for the Conservation Law Foundation. FULL REPORT

Wood burning power plants hurt global warming fight
June 10, 2010 01:19—Burning wood to generate electricity can be worse for global warming than burning coal, according to a study released yesterday. That surprising conclusion immediately prompted state officials to reconsider substantial financial incentives provided to wood-burning plants. The six-month study by the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences in Plymouth comes amid controversy over the proposed construction of two large wood-burning power plants in Western Massachusetts. “These findings have broad implications for clean energy and the environment in Massachusetts and beyond," said Ian Bowles, state secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs. FULL REPORT

Make smarter choice for energy
As a physician residing and caring for patients in the Traverse City area, I am deeply concerned about the potential health impact of a biomass plant in our region. Known gaseous byproducts of burning biomass fuels are carbon monoxide, benzene, toluene and other known toxic and cancer-causing chemicals. In addition, the ash residue of biomass emissions has an adverse health impact on human lungs and particularly those individuals with chronic lung disease such as asthma or emphysema. Let us learn from other societies who have implemented biomass energy and what has resulted in the environment in those regions.

Council of Scientific Society Presidents Letter to Washington
On May 4, 2010, the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (CSSP) sent a letter to senior administrators and legislators in Washington, noting the urgency of addressing global climate disruption, and calling for better use of science in developing policies as the nation moves foward. The CSSP cautioned that some energy systems promoted to help with global climate change have not received adequate scientific scrutiny, and may aggravate global warming and pollute the environment to a greater extent that commonly appreciated. The CSSP letter specifically mentioned the nation's biofuel policy and the development of diffuse natural gas sources in shale formations such as the Marcellus Shale as examples where energy policy has moved ahead without an adequate base in objective science.

Wolverine Power's air quality permit denied by DNRE
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) today denied Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative’s air quality Permit to Install application for a new 600 megawatt power plant, fueled primarily by petroleum coke and coal, in Rogers City. The decision follows a thorough review of the permit application under state and federal law. The state’s decision is based on findings of the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC), which said the company failed to demonstrate the plant was needed to meet future supply needs. The MPSC staff also determined that building the proposed plant would increase electricity rates paid by average residential customers by 59.2 percent, costing the average residential customer $76.95 more each month. Only Hawaii has a higher average kilowatt-hour rate. “We are protecting hundreds of thousands of Michigan homeowners, businesses, and farmers from paying a whopping increase in their electric bills, which would have been among the highest in the nation,” Governor Jennifer M. Granholm said. “The cost of doing business in Michigan would have skyrocketed, and despite the short-term gain from its construction, this project would have been a job-killer and a roadblock in our efforts to bring new economic development investments to Michigan.”

Biomass Industry Sees 'Chilling Message' in EPA's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rule
U.S. EPA's final rule determining which sources will be subject to greenhouse gas permitting requirements does not exempt biomass power. Emissions from biomass or biogenic sources are treated the same as other sources of greenhouse gases in the final rule, EPA spokeswoman Cathy Milbourn said.

The Watershed Center Letter to Traverse City Light and Power
The Watershed Center is the author of the Grand Traverse Bay Watershed Protection Plan. That plan was developed in collaboration with 28 other regional organizations and agencies and approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) in 2005. The Watershed Center has long promoted the importance of trees and other deep-rooted vegetation along shorelines and streambanks for the purpose of erosion and sediment control as well as for taking up nutrients which also harm water quality. Recent research in Michigan and around the country is showing the importance of tree cover throughout a given watershed. The Watershed Center is currently conducting a Watershed Forestry Analysis funded in part by a grant from the DNRE. That analysis will use current tree cover data and specialized software that will show the ecosystem benefits provided by the forest cover in the 1,000 square-mile Grand Traverse Bay watershed.

U.S. losing trees faster than other forested nations
Out of seven of the most heavily forested nations on Earth, the United States experienced a greater percentage of forest loss than did any of the other countries, a study said Monday. The United States lost more than 46,000 square miles of forest, a size roughly equivalent to the state of Pennsylvania. That's about 6% of the nation's forested land. The study, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the forest loss was the result of both human and natural causes.

    Related Article: Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign (United Nations)
    Related Article: 2010 Year of Biodiversity (United Nations)

Wisdom: An Endangered Natural Resource
There was a time when wisdom, as the pinnacle of human insight and understanding, was prized above anything else. Knowledge looks around, wisdom sees deeper. Wisdom is available within each and every one of us, a combination of clear vision--seeing things as they are, not as we might like them to be--combined with understanding how things are interconnected and function. Truth or reality is things as they are, just as they are--stripped of concepts, preconceptions and judgment -- and not as we are, heavily conditioned by projections and interpretations. MetaWisdom is that overarching, underlying, timeless yet timely discriminating awareness which sees clearly and acts accordingly, in tune with how things are and need to be.

The Biomistake: slanted survey & bad research are behind a bad idea
And so it has come to pass that Traverse City Light & Power (TCLP) has decided to build a biomass plant and burn our forests to produce electricity. We’ve been assured their tree harvesting will focus on just the crummy trees and these efforts will thin the forests and make them healthier than ever. This process is sustainable because, well, there are trees all over the place up here. It’s renewable because crummy trees keep springing up that deserve to be harvested; their crumminess a blight on the more upstanding trees. We weren’t even aware our woodlands were unhealthy. It’s a pretty good bet they aren’t suffering from a lack of human intervention but maybe they needed a date with chainsaws and wood-chippers, a kind of botanical species cleansing. The language used in the TCLP research, especially on the key question of support, is obviously biased. It’s hard to imagine this being done accidentally given the overwhelming nature of the bias.

A Point / Counterpoint on the Biomass Issue
M'Lynn Hartwell, of the Jobs and Energy research group; and Ed Rice, executive director of Traverse City Light & Power go head to head in an interview by Anne Stanton in the Northern Express newspaper. Now on news-stands in NW Michigan and online at http://www.northernexpress.com

We Must Invest in Energy Innovation
When it comes to developing new sources of energy, and ways to store that energy, I believe the federal government needs to play a more active role than it does today. Recently, I’ve joined with other concerned business leaders to create the American Energy Innovation Council. Over the next several months, we’ll be offering detailed proposals to invigorate America’s energy innovation. Despite talk about the need for “21st-century” energy sources, federal spending on clean energy research is also relatively small. The U.S. government annually spends less than $3 billion — compared with roughly $30 billion annually on health research and $80 billion on defense research and development.

Catching The Wind | VIEW DEMONSTRATION VIDEO
A group of Midwest utilities is building a plant that will store excess wind power underground. The group is building a system that will steer surplus electricity generated by a nearby wind farm to a big air compressor (diagram). Connected to a deep well, the compressor pumps air into layers of sandstone. Some 3,000 feet down and sealed from above by dense shale, the porous sandstone acts like a giant balloon. Later, when demand for power rises, this flow is reversed. As the chamber empties, a whoosh of air flows back up the pipe into a natural-gas-fired turbine, boosting its efficiency by upwards of 60%. This trick does more than capture wind that might otherwise be wasted. It also lets the utility sell the stored energy when demand is peaking and prices are highest, says Kent Holst, the park's development director. The 268-megawatt system is on track to go online in 2011. [J&E EDITOR: Michigan is a perfect candidate for this technology, because we have a lot of airtight cavern space left over from natural gas extraction. This may be the best way to make wind and solar energy work like baseload energy production available. Michigan utilities need to find the will to embrace this, and stop burning dirty fuels such as coal and biomass.]

Climate Change Effects Due to Carbon Emission
The adverse effects caused to environment due to carbon emission include increased frequency of extreme weather events, and variation in pattern of monsoons, rise in surface temperature, sea level rise and melting of glaciers along with other factors. Climate Change is also likely to affect agriculture and food production and result in increase incidence of vector borne diseases. The effects on human life include increase in malnutrition and consequent disorders, with implications for child growth and development; increased deaths, disease and injury due to heat waves, floods, storms, fires and droughts; increased burden of diarrhoeal disease and altered spatial distribution of some infectious-disease vectors.

Officials question L&P's autonomy
TRAVERSE CITY — A contentious biomass debate provides the perfect opportunity for the city to take a good, hard look at Traverse City Light & Power's autonomy. City commissioners appoint Light & Power's board but have limited control over the utility's operations. They have the ability to approve or reject Light & Power's entire budget, though they can't make line-item changes and must approve bond requests. Some commissioners and area citizens want to know if it's possible to have more oversight of the utility. "I am disturbed by the fact that we created this monster of Light & Power that we own but have no control over," Commissioner Mary Ann Moore said. Commissioner Barbara Budros, who previously called the public input process a "charade," was adamant at Monday's city commission meeting that the city re-examine its relationship with Light & Power. "We are ultimately responsible for what Light & Power does ... and yet we don't seem to have any authority over what Light & Power does," she told a Record-Eagle reporter. "I'm not comfortable with that."

Michigan Republican's want to do to our forests what Nestle has done to our water!

Our forests are not a commodity!
April 14, 2010—I have wasted more hours than I care to count attending Traverse City Light & Power meetings about the wrong headed biomass forest incineration for energy issue. All of the industry "experts" from Ed Rice, the Executive Director of TCL&P, to the Foresters for hire, indicated that we'll take good care of the forests. We love them too. Now we see the real finagling that has been going on behind the scenes. In their budget proposal released last month, the Michigan House Republicans propose increasing the sale of timber from state forest land by 50 percent, which they claim will yield $25 million in additional revenue for the state. They also recommend transferring responsibility for timber sales from the Dept. of Natural Resources and Environment to the Dept. of Agriculture. Under this arrangement trees will be treated as an agricultural product and logging companies will be exempt from the state business tax. DNRE is already required to put up 63,000 acres for sale each year. Michigan is the only state in the nation that requires that a number of acres be offered to loggers each year. Increasing that levelwill absolutely jeopardize the state forests sustainability certificate.

Editorial: TC not ready for biomass decision
Traverse City Light & Power officials appear to be the only people in town who believe the city-owned utility has sold the public on plans for a $30 million wood-fired power plant. In fact, they seem to be some of the few people around who think -- after months of publicity and public forums -- that the proposed east-side plant is even a good idea, let alone ready for a green light. Given the reality that there appears to be wide and persistent opposition to the proposal -- based on comments at public forums, comments to the utility and letters to the editor -- it is incumbent on Light & Power to push back its self-imposed deadline. The utility must also, in the name of due diligence, take a serious look at the dams on the Boardman River and their potential for generating electricity. The pat answer from Light & Power officials is that the river doesn't have enough flow, but they offer nothing more. A year-long study of the dams conducted recently fell far short of any meaningful analysis and gave short shrift to again using the dams to make power. We have to know.

Friends of the Jordan Position Statement on Biomass in Northern Michigan
Friends of the Jordan: Biomass - Up In Smoke, Burning The Future
Friends of the Jordan fully supports efforts to convert to green, carbon neutral energy sources.  Burning trees and tree products in biomass plants, however, is NOT green, NOT carbon neutral and NOT sustainable.  Biomass plants harm our environment, public health and the economy.  We call on Governor Granholm to follow in Massachusetts' footsteps and call for a moratorium on renewable energy credits for biomass plants.  Better alternatives exist. According to a team of top international scientists, wood-burning biomass plants are considered carbon neutral because of an "accounting error."  On line research news Science Daily wrote, "Current carbon accounting, used in the Kyoto Protocol and other climate legislation including the European's cap and trade and the America Clean Energy and Security Act, does not factor CO2 released from tailpipes and smokestacks utilizing bioenergy, nor does it count emissions from land use changes when biomass is harvested or grown."  According to a US Department of Energy study, if not corrected, this incentive could "globally lead to the loss of most of the world's forests as carbon caps tighten."

Michigan Sierra Club Forest Ecologist on Biomass Plan
The Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club Write to TCL&Ps
pdf
Traverse City—Dear Mr. Rice, This letter is on behalf of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, representing 25,000 members and supporters statewide, and hundreds of members within the Traverse City Board of Light & Power service area. We congratulate TCL&P on its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while meeting the power needs of its customers. We are concerned, however, that not all the effects of current proposals have been adequately scrutinized.

Biomass plant idea lacks credibility
The Traverse City Light & Power Integrated Resource Plan study by R.W. Beck study purports to show that at least one, perhaps up to three, biomass plants are superior to coal and gas alternatives on a risk-adjusted, least-cost basis. The study is deeply flawed mostly because of poor assumptions. This entire debate is a bit surreal. We've suddenly gone from $50 wholesale power to more than $100 without a whimper, all because of a hypothetical carbon tax regime that is highly uncertain. The idea that Light & Power, in effect, should mandate such a tax is a momentous step not needed in advance of any national or state requirement. Biomass is not needed to meet the state's 2015 10 percent Rewable Portfolio Standard requirement, and Light & Power's breathless pace to go further seems an unlikely way to build consensus.

Up in Smoke
There has been a spade of new proposals for new wood burning biomass energy plants sprouting across the country like mushrooms after a rain. Currently there are plans and/or proposals for new biomass power plants in Maine, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, California, Idaho, Oregon and elsewhere. In every instance, these plants are being promoted as “green” technology. Part of the reason for this “boom” is that taxpayers are providing substantial financial incentives, including tax breaks, government grants, and loan guarantees. The rationale for these taxpayer subsidies is the presumption that biomass is “green” energy. But like other “quick fixes” there has been very little serious scrutiny of biomass real costs and environmental impacts. Even with the best pollution control devises, biomass energy is extremely dirty. For instance, one of the biggest biomass burners now in operation, the McNeil biomass plant in Burlington, Vermont is the number one pollution source in the state, emitting 79 classified pollutants. Biomass releases dioxins, and as much particulates as coal burning, plus carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and contribute to ozone formation.

100% Renewable Energy
Northport Village, population 648 (or so), at the tip of Leelanau County is a perfect little test town for renewable energy with its cluster of homes, quaint stores, a school, an assisted living facility, a marina, and a waste treatment plant—all within a mile of each other. It doesn’t hurt that high winds routinely whip around the village, which sits on the picturesque shoreline of Lake Michigan. That’s why a group of villagers believes they can achieve an ambitious goal for the town: 100% renewable energy in the future, beginning with two wind turbines that will hopefully go up by the end of this year. Their ultimate goal is to also power outlying Leelanau Township (population 2,139) with renewable energy.

Building a Green Economy
If you listen to climate scientists — and despite the relentless campaign to discredit their work, you should — it is long past time to do something about emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. If we continue with business as usual, they say, we are facing a rise in global temperatures that will be little short of apocalyptic. And to avoid that apocalypse, we have to wean our economy from the use of fossil fuels, coal above all. But is it possible to make drastic cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions without destroying our economy?

Goofball weathermen, Climategate, conspiracy theories" are Distractions | opinion
The message from scientists at this point couldn't be clearer: the world's emissions trajectory is extremely dangerous. Goofball weathermen, Climategate, conspiracy theories--these are all a distraction from what's really happening. Which, apparently, is what we're looking for.

Energy Crops and Their Implications on Soil and Environment pdf
Removal of residues adversely aff ects soil physical, chemical, and biological properties. It increases the soil’s susceptibility to compaction, crusting, and surface sealing. It reduces soil aggregation, macroporosity, aeration, and water infi ltration. Residue removal also increases abrupt fl uctuations in soil temperature and reduces plant available water content, which are the critical factors for plant growth. It increases evapotranspiration, reduces water storage, and alters biological activity and nutrient cycling. Residue removal also reduces crop yields by removing essential plant nutrients associated with residues

Humans have consumed 60 percent of natural forests worldwide and over 95 percent in the US.

Land, The Greatest Excuse of All By Rachel Smolker
We have found a solution to climate change. After all the negotiating and hand wringing there is, at long last, a way out of this dilemma. And the good news is that it won't be hard at all. In fact, it requires us to do pretty much nothing at all. Just put a fence around a piece of the back 40 and christen it "offset," and, voila, you've got an excuse to keep on polluting. This may seem too crazy to be true, but it is happening and it is why countries like Australia and the U.S. are suddenly agreeing to "reduce" their emissions (even if only by a paltry amount). By pushing land-based "sinks" into carbon markets, countries can conveniently count their forests, grasslands, and other ecosystems on the "assets" side of their greenhouse gas accounting worksheets. Is this reducing emissions? Of course not. It is no more than an accounting trick. An article by Guy Pearse and Gregg Borschmann in the Sydney Morning Herald on December 14, 2009, "Green Pot of Gold Lures Politicians," reports a "candid remark" from a climate negotiator in a private briefing in Copenhagen, who stated that Australia would be able to commit to a 25 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 if proposed land-use rule changes pushed by developed countries were accepted as part of a new global climate deal. "And all that without having to impose a nasty tax, set up a complicated emissions trading scheme, or clean up a single polluting pipe. It is a political win-win."

Energy crops impact environmental quality
In the March-April 2010 issue of Agronomy Journal, published by the American Society of Agronomy, Dr. Humberto Blanco reviewed the impacts of crop residue removal, warm season grasses, and short-rotation woody crops on critical soil properties, carbon sequestration, and water quality as well as the performance of energy crops in marginal lands. The review found that crop residue removal from corn, wheat,and grain sorghumcan adversely impact soil and environmental quality. Removal of more than 50% of crop residue can have negative consequences for soil structure, reduce soil organic carbon sequestration, increase water erosion, and reduce nutrient cycling and crop production, particularly in erodible and sloping soils. "Crop residue removal can make no-till soils a source rather than a sink of atmospheric carbon," says Blanco, even at rates lower than 50%. Residue removal at rates of less than 25% can cause loss of sediment in runoff relative to soils without residue removal.

Realities Explode Waste Wood Myth
Hungry for large volumes of wood, and frequently armed with government subsidies, the nascent operations have triggered wood price spikes and cross-grade competition in the tightest markets. The oft-repeated assumption that forests and sawmills are littered with waste wood , just waiting for a cheap home is proving largely erroneous. Industry newcomers are finding pro forma wood cost projections dont hold up when a 500,000 or 1 million ton/year consumer starts piling down chips and bark. Recently, pulp and paper producer Boise, urged the US Dept. of Agriculture to consider the consequences of government subsidies to wood-based biomass energy projects. My objective today is to draw attention to the unintended effects that government subsidization of biomass-based renewable energy initiatives, may have on the natural supply/demand balance of our nations raw wood materials, Grant said. Given this new competition, established industries not only contend with higher input costs for energy, chemicals, and freight, but also stand to be unfairly disadvantaged by competing with subsidized entities for vital biomass feedstock.

TC not ready for biomass decision
Traverse City Light & Power officials appear to be the only people in town who believe the city-owned utility has sold the public on plans for a $30 million wood-fired power plant. In fact, they seem to be some of the few people around who think -- after months of publicity and public forums -- that the proposed east-side plant is even a good idea, let alone ready for a green light. Given the reality that there appears to be wide and persistent opposition to the proposal -- based on comments at public forums, comments to the utility and letters to the editor -- it is incumbent on Light & Power to push back its self-imposed April 16 deadline to make a final decision. The community is not ready, the community is not convinced, the community has too many unanswered questions. To proceed now would fly in the face of Light & Power's promise that it would listen and, presumably, act accordingly. Light & Power has not made its case. This is a plant that likely will be standing -- and eating wood -- 30 years from now. Yes, there are incentives to build now, including federal money, but this is a long-term decision and must be made with all the facts -- good and bad -- in hand. CLICK HERE: RESPOND TO THE TRAVERSE CITY RECORD EAGLE NEWSPAPER BIOMASS POLL

Dam restoration important to area
Traverse City—Our firm has invested more than $100,000 in actual cash and expenses to see these renewable hydroelectric resources returned to productive service, and notwithstanding that significant stake in the process, we have been blocked and criticized for intervening in their dam removal process. The removal process will require at least three to five years and cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. Our firm, on the other hand, offered to pay all costs required to restore hydroelectric power production and divide the net revenue with the community. Restoring electric power generation at the three dams will be insurance to this community when an energy crisis occurs. Remember, these dams are the only reliable and continuous renewable energy source in our area.

Official: TCL&P Biomass forums were a 'charade'
March 31, 2010—A local environmental group believes its worst fears were confirmed in a recent letter sent by Traverse City Light & Power to its ratepayers. Traverse City Commissioner Barbara Budros agrees, contending a prolonged public input process about a proposed Light & Power biomass plant was nothing more than a "charade." "Why are people showing up to provide input when the input's irrelevant and the decision's already been made?" Budros said.

NMEAC - Letter to TCL&P following their letter from Ed Rice to Traverse City ratepayers
We can't overstate how disappointed NMEAC was to read the letter from TCL&P. It was issued weeks before April 7, the date on which TCL&P has said it will share its analysis of the community's concerns expressed in the February forums. And it was mailed in the same week that you and Jim Cooper met with our board and assured us that no decisions would be made about the biomass plan until all the concerns had been fully researched and studies had been completed of all feasible options for meeting your laudable 30 by 20 goals. READ THE ENTIRE LETTER

Follow the Money Report
Weyerhauser joins enviro-industry climate coalition
What the timber barrons say: (Thursday, March 18, 2010) Darren Samuelsohn, E&E senior reporter Global timber giant Weyerhaeuser Co. said today it has joined the U.S. Climate Action Partnership group that is lobbying for comprehensive climate and energy legislation on Capitol Hill. The Federal Way, Wash.-based company becomes the 29th member of the business-NGO lobbying coalition. "The forest products industry will play a leading role in reducing dependence on fossil fuels and reducing emissions of carbon dioxide using biomass from forests, a sustainable resource and one of the best at sequestering carbon," Weyerhaeuser CEO Dan Fulton said in a press release.

In Reality It's About the Money: Weyerhaeuser owns or manages 21 million acres of timberland and has offices or operations in 10 countries. Yet the company has struggled in the aftermath of the U.S. housing market's collapse, as well as larger global economic trends from the financial crash -- with its revenue dropping 32 percent last year to $5.53 billion, from $8.1 billion in 2008. Weyerhauser is among the corporate giants that support the Kerry Lieberman Graham bill - Weyerhauser will be able to obtain huge subsidies to log their forests for biomass incinerators that will be qualified as "clean and green" renewable energy under the bill they are supporting.

Biomass plans moving too fast
TRAVERSE CITY -- A local environmental group is increasingly worried that Traverse City Light & Power is on an unstoppable fast track to building a local wood-burning power plant, but the public utility insists a decision hasn't been made. Light & Power officials are expected to decide next month whether to construct a biomass plant in Traverse City. The facility would be fired on wood, but could accept designated fuel crops or other items. News that a consulting firm recommends biomass -- and that Light & Power is publicizing that recommendation -- raises a few eyebrows within NMEAC. Reisig said the NMEAC board on Tuesday likely will suggest Light & Power delay a biomass decision beyond April to give time for more studies and community input. But Rice said he still plans to make a biomass recommendation to the Light & Power board in April, and the board likely will decide then. Critics are concerned Light & Power hasn't paid close enough attention to wind, solar and other renewable energy options, and worry that a biomass plant could lead to pollution and local forest depletion.

Why utilities are selling Smart Meters all wrong
The U.S. electric industry is embarking on the greatest customer revolution since the early days of electrification. Subtle changes in the industry’s cash register – the meter -- coupled with the empowerment of the consumer in virtually every buying decision, will result in profound changes.  But this shift is being misunderstood and sold the wrong way.

Show me the money: TCL&P applied for stimulus funding, now what?
The American Reinvestment Recovery Act’s (ARRA) first major deadline has passed with more than 450 anxious organizations each hoping for its piece of the $3.3 billion matching grant smart grid dream-maker. The organizations crunched and crammed to get their proposals in by the August 6, 2009, deadline to the Department of Energy and are now breathing a sigh of relief as they anxiously await word from Washington to realize their hopes and dreams of matching grants.

Burning wood as renewable power draws scrutiny in Oregon and nationwide
It will release more carbon, sulfur dioxide and smog-causing nitrogen oxides than a similar-sized natural gas plant. And it's expected to receive millions in Oregon tax credits and qualify to meet the state's renewable power goals, just like non-polluting solar and wind. Burning wood, or in 2010 terms "wood biomass," is civilization's oldest form of generating energy. Burning wood is a high pollution way to generate electricity, they say. And encouraging it could cause a spike in greenhouse gas emissions that won't be fully absorbed for decades. Opponents have emerged in 18 states, including Oregon. The biggest battle to date is in Massachusetts. Concerns prompted the state to suspend classifying biomass plants as green power pending an environmental study. Activists also qualified an anti-biomass measure for the November ballot.

Available Now - Michigan Can Produce 259% of the Green Energy We Need
This updated edition of Energy Self-Reliant States narrows the focus to electricity, but includes virtually all renewable resources (on shore and off shore wind, micro hydro, combined heat and power, geothermal, rooftop PV). We also discuss the potential gains from improving energy efficiency and estimate the per kWh costs for each state to become energy independent. [Note that biomass is not included in the renewable energy sources evaluated. Biomass has many uses: The highest use is for nutrition, then materials and chemicals, and finally energy. But in the energy hierarchy, electricity generation is at the bottom.]

Shifting the world to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030 – here are the numbers
Stanford University Study—Wind, water and solar energy resources are sufficiently available to provide all the world's energy. Converting to electricity and hydrogen powered by these sources would reduce world power demand by 30 percent, thereby avoiding 13,000 coal power [and biomass] plants. Materials and costs are not limitations to these conversions, but politics may be, say Stanford and UC researchers who have mapped out a blueprint for powering the world. The key is turning to wind, water and solar energy to generate electrical power – making a massive commitment to them – and eliminating combustion as a way to generate power for vehicles as well as for normal electricity use. The problem lies in the use of fossil fuels and biomass combustion, which are notoriously inefficient at producing usable energy.

100% of Our Energy from Wind Power is Possible
With all the talk of going green, the question had been thrown out many times if there will ever be a time that we can use nothing but renewable energy to power our world. A small island in Denmark is trying answer that question with a resounding yes as they power up every single day via nothing but wind power. As a matter of fact, the wind power that they are using is their ONLY source of power. While the naysayers of the world would argue that this is great on an island, but how would it work in a city, they need only know that this “island” is far larger than Manhattan, NY. It gives hope that one day, regardless of the location or size, that an entire US city can use some sort of renewable energy to get their power. To be able to erase the entire carbon footprint can actually become a reality.

The Climate Movement
The sooner we realize that politicians and corporations will not solve the climate crisis, the sooner we can get to the real work of building a strong grassroots people’s movement – our only hope for survival. In that regard, the failure in of the December 2009 UN climate meetings in Copenhagen may be a great opportunity. The inability of world leaders to cooperate rather than compete, to put a livable planet ahead of their own economic interests, is the death of their legitimacy. It is not just the politicians and CEOs who are walking us down the gangplank. Many in the climate movement have grown all too cozy with the status quo. The “bold” action they call for will result in the privatization of the air, to be divided up by mega-polluters. Their demands for carbon neutrality seek to offset our problems onto poor countries while the rich keep burning and consuming. Their vision of a “clean energy future” would perpetuate the corporate control of our energy and of the Earth itself. North must drastically reduce our consumption of energy and other resources. Corporate profit requires we do otherwise, and they will do everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

Bill Gates: the Most Important Climate Speech of the Year?
February 16, 2010—When we talk about zero climate emissions, we sound crazy. When Bill Gates does it, bankers pick up the phone. On Friday, the world's most successful businessperson and most powerful philanthropist did something outstandingly bold, that went almost unremarked: Bill Gates announced that his top priority is getting the world to zero climate emissions. Even more importantly, he acknowledged the only sensible goal, when it comes to climate emissions, is to eliminate them: we should be aiming for a civilization that produces no net emissions, and we should be aiming to live in that civilization here in the developed world by 2050. Protecting and healing the biosphere is essential to meeting the climate crisis itself. Logging our forests, over-burdening our oceans, converting land for agriculture and grazing, all these are huge contributors to our climate problem, and restoring the capacities of natural systems to absorb carbon dioxide is a critical part of the solution.

Long Live the Environment
To reduce emissions we in the global North must drastically reduce our consumption of energy and other resources. Corporate profit requires we do otherwise, and they will do everything in their power to maintain the status quo. A corporate “clean energy future” will only maintain the structures of exploitation that are at the root of the climate crisis, disregarding the fact that it is our economic system of ever-expanding production and consumption of the Earth’s resources that has gotten us into this mess. The same corporate logic that blows up mountains for coal will cover poor Saharan countries in solar panels to power Europe’s cities. It will turn North Dakota into a wind colony for California. Left to its own devices, capitalism, regardless of its energy supply, will continue to devour the Earth’s remaining resources until we exceed the Earth’s carrying capacity. Infinite growth will ultimately wear

Wood Supply for Biomass Supplies Are Falling Short of Demand
January 2010, Vol. 51, No. 1, p. 38—Downturn in construction has caused a shortage of woody waste streams, while demand for biomass to produce energy has risen. The net effect has been challenging to wood recyclers. For several years, mulch producers and composting facilities have seen more competition for feedstocks from biomass power plants and wood pellet manufacturers. In some regions, locally generated wood waste was being processed for export markets as well. European demand for pellets is much greater than their supply. When the housing market comes back, wood producers will need to have a game plan in order to secure materials they need to meet processing and product demands. [Editor: the cost of wood will continue to rise, as availability falls short of demand worldwide. Energy from biomass may be a risky investment. In Michigan, wind energy is our best investment.]

FOLLOW THE MONEY: WHY INVESTORS LIKE WOODY BIOMASS
Rapid Expansion of Wood Pellet Capacity in North America Drives Sawdust and Wood Chip Prices Upward

Jan. 5, 2010—There has been a rapid expansion in wood pellet capacity in North America the past five years, from just over one million tons in 2004 to over six million tons in 2009, reports the North American Wood Fiber Review ('http://www.woodprices.com'). Much of the investment in pellet capacity in the U.S. South has been driven by the export market in Europe. In 2004, the pellet industry was practically non-existent in the U.S. South and this sector has now grown and reached nearly two million tons in 2009. Due to a lack of affordable wood fiber supply wood chip prices, sawdust prices and woody biomass prices have gone up substantially the past five years. In 2004, average sawdust prices were US$28/odmt; these prices reached a peak of US$74/odmt in late 2008 and have since fallen, averaging US$64/odmt in the third quarter of 2009.

FOLLOW THE MONEY: WHY INVESTORS LIKE WOODY BIOMASS
Raw stuff in need

A really large part of world pellet production is being delivered to the markets outside the manufacturing country. Some data from wood industry specialists:

  • World pellet production exports grew approximately 25% in 2008.
  • Shipping countries: British Columbia, Canada, Brazil
  • Consumer countries: Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden (without paying attention to the expensive 15,000-kilometers trip from BC Interior to European countries market).

The experts forecast quick expansion in biomass world trade (both wood chips and pellets) in the next three to five years, by the fact that native biomass supplies have been already consumed in their countries.

Michigan Sierra Club Position Statement on Biomass and Clean Energy pdf
Issues surrounding the production of energy by combustion of biomass fuels are complex, sometimes contentious, and involve many different aspects of Sierra Club policy. This guidance is an interpretation of how our existing policies relate to biomass energy issues, rather than a new policy statement. Its purpose is to guide Sierra Club members and the public in understanding our views on many aspect of biomass.

Baseload: Compressed Air System Solves the Energy Storage Conundrum
Energy storage is one of the greatest milestones facing the renewable energy industry. You can’t control the winds or the sun’s rays, so intermittency is a problem and you can’t flood the grid when you most need an electric boost. This also means that a lot of the power that is ready for the grid isn’t used, and is lost. Southwest Solar Technology is developing a totally clean Compressed Air Energy Storage System (CAES) that uses clean technology during the day to pump heated and compressed air into an airtight chamber, which is released through a turbine to create power when it is needed the most. Compressed Air Energy Systems currently exist in conventional power plants – there is one in McIntosh, Alabama that has been in operation for a decade. These conventional plants compress and heat the air with natural gas or coal, however Southwest Solar Technology is planning to compress and heat the air in their CAES with clean technology. Where a conventional plant will switch from natural gas to coal at night the Southwest Solar Technology plant will switch from solar to wind.

10 startling facts about climate change
New evidence has emerged that the climate crisis is nearer—and scarier—than we had believed. Please urge your Senators to support comprehensive climate and clean energy legislation that will reinvigorate our economy and create millions of new jobs. The stakes are high. We must start cutting our carbon emissions now, or we may soon lose the ability to prevent runaway global warming.

Living Local
Community-by-community response to climate change offers Iowa its best chance to become a national leader in sustainability. Stories from people who are living comfortably and sustainably off local resources.

Big Drop in Wolverine Co-op’s Power Demand
One month after state regulators said there was no need for a proposed Rogers City coal-fired power plant, the member-owned utility pushing to build it saw a striking 14.6 percent drop in a key monthly measure of its customers’ energy demand. The company, Wolverine Electric Supply Cooperative Inc., which wants to build a 600 MW coal- and pet coke-burning facility in a quarry near the Lake Huron shoreline, told the state in its permit application that it needed the plant because demand for electricity in its service area would continue to grow for decades to come. But, according to minutes of the Wolverine board of directors’ October meeting the cooperative’s peak electrical demand was down 14.6 percent. The news, which the company has not released publicly, comes at an inopportune moment in the company’s 30-month drive for permission from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to build the plant.

Time to Speak Out Against the Biggest Polluters
Right now only a handful of pollution sources, including coal-fired power plants, are responsible for more than half of all of the global warming pollution in the United States. Cleaning these up is a large step towards stopping global warming, so EPA is proposing a new rule to start cleaning up these Big Polluters under the Clean Air Act. By targeting the worst offenders, the Big Polluters rule is an important step that will cut global warming pollution while still helping our economy grow. That’s why we’ve helped organize crowds of folks to turn out to the Wednesday and Thursday hearings: These mega-polluters should be held responsible for their share. The rule would only apply to offenders emitting at least 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases each year, exempting small businesses, churches and apartment buildings, while addressing the bulk of the nation’s global warming pollution.

Google Tracks Global Deforestation
Google.org has unleashed new software to track and monitor deforestation, using past, present, and future satellite models to show the changes in tree cover of various regions. The idea is that by providing scientists with this visual tool for understanding data, Google can better protect the world's forests. But that's just the start.

Dr Seuss at Copenhagen

The Truth About Trees
20-Dec-2009—Forests were part of the discussion in Copenhagen, and several things were understood: carbon dioxide is a potentially world-altering lethal pollutant, fossil fuels are the problem. But exactly how to pare down the use of fossil fuels and switch to energy sources derived from plant material? The world’s forests are a key to our survival, and that of millions of other species. Not only are they critical to providing us with building material, paper, food, recreation and oxygen, they also ground us spiritually and connect us to our primal past. Never before in earth’s history have our forests been under such attack.

Corporations' hopes for Copenhagen
You know, a lot of companies are seeing that being profitable and fighting climate change are not mutually exclusive. Addressing environmental issues will actually benefit a company's bottom line.

Taxes fuel clean economy
At this point in the UN climate conferece, you might fairly be asking yourself this question: Why Copenhagen? I mean, it's nice enough. But mid-December's not the most visitor-friendly month to be in the Danish capital, after all. There is this to consider, though. With the pressure on to move to a clean or at least a cleaner economy, the Danes are miles ahead of almost everybody else in that regard. Marketplace's Sam Eaton reports now from Copenhagen.

“Shameful” for West to Spend Trillions on War and Only $10 Billion for Climate Change | Video
The budget of the United States is $687 billion for defense. And for climate change, to save life, to save humanity, they only put up $10 billion. This is shameful. The budget for the Iraq war is $2.6 trillion for the Iraq war, to go kill in Iraq. Trillions of dollars.

Leaked Internal Document: Global Temperatures Will Rise by More than 2 Degrees Celsius
A leaked internal document from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change states that current targets on emissions reductions from countries around the world will cause global temperatures to rise above two degrees Celsius. According to the UNFCCC document, current emissions reduction targets could lead to a three degree Celsius rise.

Police Pepper Spray, Arrest Protesters Marching on UN Climate Summit as Hundreds Inside Stage Walkout
In Copenhagen, thousands of protesters marched toward the UN climate summit on Wednesday with the stated goal of transforming the talks into a People’s Assembly and to call for climate justice. Police made over 200 arrests. Meanwhile, inside the Bella Center, hundreds of people staged a walkout to try and meet the marchers outside but were met with a heavy police response. [Editor: such a temperature rise can lead to global calamity. As the largest polluter in the world the United States is not doing enough.]

UN: Rich nations must make big emission cuts
The draft accord said all countries together should reduce emissions by 50 percent to 95 percent by 2050, and rich countries should cut emissions by 25 percent to 40 percent by 2020, in both cases using 1990 as the baseline year. It was meant to focus attention on the broad goals the world must achieve to avoid irreversible change in climate that scientists say could bring many species to extinction and cause upheavals in the human environment in many parts of the Earth. So far, pledges from the industrial countries amounted to far less than the minimum.

How Much Human Activity Can Earth Handle?
As human population has exploded over the past few thousand years, the delicate ecological balance has become threatened. The rise of industrialized agriculture has thrown off Earth's natural nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, leading to pollution on land and water, while our fossil-fuel addiction has moved billions of tons of carbon from the land into the atmosphere, heating the climate ever more. Now a new article in the Sept. 24 issue of Nature says the safe climatic limits in which humanity has blossomed are more vulnerable than ever and that unless we recognize our planetary boundaries and stay within them, we risk total catastrophe. "Human activities have reached a level that could damage the systems that keep Earth in the desirable Holocene state," writes Johan Rockstrom, executive director of the Stockholm Environmental Institute and the author of the article. "The result could be irreversible and, in some cases, abrupt environmental change, leading to a state less conducive to human development."

The new American reality
Although global emissions are still rising, U.S. emissions are falling, fast. Since 2007, they are down 9 percent, in large part because Americans are using 2 million barrels less oil each day. Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute believes that "the United States has entered a new energy era. Peak carbon is now history. What had appeared to be hopelessly difficult is happening at amazing speed." Economic devastation is one cause of lower emissions. Burdened with debt and starved for credit, the growth engine has seized. Construction is at a standstill, sprawl on sabbatical and storefronts are blinking out and idle. Over the coming decades, coal is likely to lose market share to wind, solar and natural gas. Thirty-four states have adopted renewable electricity standards, and some of them are aggressive.
Saving energy, water, soil and carbon -- plugging the leaks -- will be essential if we hope to reboot the economy; some economists argue that future growth will be impossible without it.

Investing in Illusion
Why has our economic theory failed us? Why is the reality of climate change so hard to accept? Why does climate change dominate public dialogue while the more proximate threat of peak oil remains far off the radar? Why do we have such resistance to change? Many in our news media have substituted entertainment for information and sponsor-endorsed opinion for neutral reportage, while the literacy of the public and the capacity for critical thought have progressively declined.

Climate fix can be economic boon
Remember when your kids were young, and they were acting up and they were misbehaving, and you kept saying, "You guys cut it out. I really mean it this time, cut it out." That seems to me to be where we are with climate change. That you have to keep saying these things, and yet nobody ever listens.

Protecting Michigan's Economy, Communities and Environment from Global Warming pdf
Yes. Michigan is warming. Since mid-century temperatures across the state have risen over 1.25°F, and are expected to rise up to an additional 5°F by 2060.1 Based on these projected increases, summers in Michigan will begin to resemble those of Ohio by as early as 2030, and will eventually resemble northern Arkansas by the end of the century. Along the shores of the Great Lakes, projections show a decrease of up to eight inches in annual rainfall by 2060. These changes are significant and the impacts are already being felt. Across the U.S. more than 80% of plant and animal species studied are shifting their ranges in reaction to less than 10 F of warming in the last century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts further warming could result in up to 30% of known species becoming extinct and the disappearance of more than one-fifth of the world's ecosystems.'

People are irrational about climate, but teachable
People are not rational. Despite decades of scientific evidence that human activities are causing climate change, and an abundance of proposed solutions, societies still are not taking as much action to mitigate climate change as many experts are saying is necessary. "If you started to reverse-engineer and said, 'I want to create a problem that people will not care about,' you would probably end up with global warming," explained Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at Duke University.

The sea is rising it's time to decide which cities are worth saving
Since April Fool's Day expired, there has been nothing but bad news about Earth's various ice shelves circulating through the news. Antarctica's Wordie and Larsen ice shelves? The first is simply gone, and the second is disappearing fast. How about the Connecticut-sized Wilkins shelf? It has fragmented into polar pieces after the ice tether holding it to the Antarctic peninsula snapped this week, signaling that the Earth is undergoing some profound changes. In other words, giant ice cubes the size of American states melting into the ocean should worry everyone on Earth.

Planning for Peak Oil | A MUST LISTEN
Randy Udall says the rapid expansion of oil dependence cannot go on for another 50 years in the United States. He shares stories of ingenuity in the face of oil depletion. Also, Bryn Davidson talks about planning resilient cities.

Action
Stopping global warming
We can repower America with clean energy, protect our environment, and rebuild our economy in the process -- putting millions of Americans to work building wind turbines, installing solar panels, weatherizing homes, and building plug-in hybrid cars that get 100 miles to the gallon. That’s why I urge you to work to pass the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act.

Clean energy is the solution
It's time to take back control of our energy future. By harnessing the power of the wind and sun, we can cut global warming pollution and transition to clean energy sources that don't harm the environment, never run out, and create new jobs across America. But we will only succeed if we require the oldest, dirtiest, and least efficient power plants to stop polluting with impunity.

The Earth is Hiring
No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the world has ever seen. Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the scenes and gets the job done.

EPA Issues Carbon-Emissions Rule
07-Dec-2009—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared carbon dioxide a health hazard today, paving the way for new regulation of emissions from sources such as power plants, factories, cars and trucks. The decision allows the agency to issue rules to govern heat-trapping pollution that many scientists say may lead to irreversible climate shifts. The EPA announced the decision in a statement that said the science “overwhelmingly” supports the finding. EPA

EPA: Greenhouse gases endanger human health
WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded greenhouse gases are endangering people's health and must be regulated, signaling that the Obama administration is prepared to contain global warming without congressional action if necessary. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson scheduled a news conference for later Monday to announce the so-called endangerment finding. Under a Supreme Court ruling, the so-called endangerment finding is needed before the EPA can regulate carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases released from automobiles, power plants, and factories under the federal Clean Air Act. The EPA has begun the early stages of developing permit requirements on carbon dioxide pollution from large emitters such as power plants.

   

Related Article: The Right Solution

    Related Article: Public Health professionals urge State Senate to protect residents

Burn a Tree to Save the Planet? The Crazy Logic Behind Biomass
Fire up your chainsaw and cut down a tree. Not so you can decorate it for the Christmas holiday; so you can set it on fire to help combat global warming. That's right, burn a tree to save the planet. That's the notion behind biomass, the new (yet ancient) technology of burning wood to produce energy. It might seem crazy that anyone would even consider the incineration of wood and its byproducts to be a green substitute for toxic fuels such as coal. Yet that's exactly what is happening all over the country, and it has many environmentalists scratching their heads in disbelief. "At every turn biomass is a complete and utter train wreck," added Gibbs. "Chopping up and burning whole trees will not conquer global warming, it will only exacerbate the problem beyond the point of no return."

Searching for a Miracle: ‘Net Energy’ Limits & the Fate of Industrial Society
Can any combination of known energy sources successfully supply society’s energy needs at least up to the year 2100? In the end, we are left with the disturbing conclusion that all known energy sources are subject to strict limits of one kind or another. Conventional energy sources such as oil, gas, coal, and nuclear are either at or nearing the limits of their ability to grow in annual supply, and will dwindle as the decades proceed—but in any case they are unacceptably hazardous to the environment. And contrary to the hopes of many, there is no clear practical scenario by which we can replace the energy from today’s conventional sources with sufficient energy from alternative sources to sustain industrial society at its present scale of operations.

Michigan Rep. Joel Sheltrown to introduce bill to make renewables more affordable
Rep. Joel Sheltrown plans to introduce legislation on Thursday in the Michigan House that would allow local governments to make loans for renewable energy devices like wind turbines. The proposal, modeled after similar laws in other states, would allow local units of government to issue bonds for low-interest loans to homeowners and businesses for renewable energy production and energy efficiency improvements. That energy production includes wind, solar and geothermal.

It's Time
The world has arrived at a moment of decision. As long as we continue to depend on dirty fossil fuels to meet our energy needs, and dump 90 million tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere, we move closer and closer to several dangerous tipping points—points which scientists have repeatedly warned would, if crossed, threaten to make it impossible for us to avoid irretrievable destruction of the conditions that make human civilization possible on this planet.

Michigan needs affordable, safe, reliable, renewable energy. Our future and our health depends on it!

“Michigan has the third-best 'wind-map' in the country, making it a great place to develop a wind energy industry.” Governor Granholm

Consumers Energy: E-docket 15996

  • Consumers Energy’s long-term capacity need is unjustified without the explicit retirement of existing coal capacity in its baseload generation fleet. Given Consumers Energy’s load growth assumption of approximately 0.3% per year, coupled with anticipated effects of energy efficiency and demand reduction initiatives, the longterm projected capacity need before the assumed expiration of the Palisades Purchase Power Agreement (PPA) in 2022 is based primarily on assumed retirement of approximately 950 MW of existing coal capacity.
  • Staff notes that the proposed ASCPC plant is one alternative out of a range of alternatives that may be used to fill the projected capacity need. Other alternatives that may fill all or portions of the projected capacity need include; energy efficiency and load management; renewable resources; or a combination of a number of alternatives that could include lesser amounts of purchased power.

Wolverine E-docket 16000

  • Wolverine failed to demonstrate the need for the proposed facility as the sole source to meet their projected capacity. In particular, long-term purchase power options were not fully explored as part of their analysis. It should be noted that the majority of Wolverine’s long-term projected capacity need is based upon the expiration of power purchases (540 MW) on or before December 31, 2011. Wolverine has presented no evidence that the capacity currently supporting this existing contract will be unavailable in the future.
  • Staff notes that the proposed CFB plant is one alternative out of a range of alternatives that may be used to fill the projected capacity need. Other alternatives that may fill all or portions of the projected capacity need include; energy efficiency and load management; renewable resources; or a combination of a number of alternatives that could include lesser amounts of purchased power.

The Right Solution to the Carbon Emissions Problem
A critical choice is in progress. The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed a climate bill this past June, and a similar bill was introduced in the Senate in late September. Both bills rely on a Cap-and-Trade with Carbon Offsets approach. Based on our 20+ years each as public sector environmental attorneys, we believe enactment of this type of bill would lock in climate degradation; it would enrich carbon offset investors, but fail to create the shift in incentives needed to begin the clean energy revolution. We urge you to contact your representatives.

World Changing Ideas
Twenty ways to build a cleaner, healthier, and smarter world.

Biorefineries get $564m funding
Up to $483m will go to 14 pilot scale projects and 4 demonstration-scale biorefinery projects while the remaining $81m will go to Bluefire LLC to accelerate the company's construction of a cellulosic ethanol fuel facility in Fulton, Mississippi. The Bluefire project, which also got previous funding from the DOE, is expected to produce 19m gallons/year of fuel-grade ethanol using using wood wastes, mill residue and sorted municipal waste. The DOE said all the biorefinery projects will be matched with more than $700m in private and non-government cost-share funds amounting to a total investments of almost $1.3bn.

Would You Pay a Quarter a Day to See the US Become the Global Leader on Clean Energy?
23 cents a day. That's what it would cost to get America on track to being a global leader in innovation again. For decades, the US has lead the world in innovation--automobiles, computers, airplanes, the internet (thanks Al Gore!), and so on. But there's one major area where we're falling behind--renewable energy. Even though some of the best alternative energy technology was developed right here in the US of A, we're quickly losing ground to other nations around the world. European nations like Denmark, Sweden, Spain, and the UK now meet sizable chunks of their energy demands from renewable sources--the US doesn't even get 1%.

Low-carbon future: We can afford to go green!
Reducing carbon emissions needn't hit our pockets. New studies suggest that radical cuts to emissions will cause barely noticeable increases in the price of food, drink and most other goods by 2050 (see the figures). Electricity and petrol costs will rise significantly, but with the right policies in place, say the modellers, this need not lead to big changes in our lifestyle. "These results show that the global project to fight climate change is doable," says Alex Bowen, a climate policy expert at the London School of Economics. "It's not such a big ask as people are making out."

Third Annual Stategic Directions in the Electric Utility Industry report
It isn't always easy to ascertain what energy executives and consultants talk about behind closed doors. In fact some off the initiatives, such as the sham of "clean coal" boggle the mind. However from time to time we are able to catch a glimpse into the industry. Some of the ideas being considered appear in the "Black and Vetch: Third Annual Strategic Directions in the Electric Utility Industry" report. On pages 59 and 60 of the report we read:

Wind and solar rank second and third as preferred technologies: 56% and 54%, respectively. Wind has retained its relative ranking over the 2006 to 2008 period, while interest in solar has accelerated rapidly. While not at significant levels, interest in tidal resources has also increased substantially over the last three years. Interest in coal gasification has lost ground, dropping from 22% in 2006 to approximately 10% in 2008. The major options for reducing electricity-related greenhouse gas emissions, in rough order of cost effectiveness are:

1. Energy efficiency
2 Coal Upgrades. ...technology and innovation also can be employed in the near term to reduce CO2 emissions from existing plants. ...boiler and steam turbine upgrades, co-firing of biomass, control system upgrades, transformer replacements, upgrades of motors and installation of variable frequency drives, feedwater heater replacements, and cooling tower retrofits are all small to mid-size capital improvement projects that would yield long-term improvements in performance and reliability while reducing CO2 emissions. .. aggressive pursuit of (plant) efficiency improvements at the more than 1.2 million MW of installed coal-fired capacity worldwide could yield greater reductions in CO2 emissions in the next 10 to 15 years than the adoption of clean coal technologies in new plants.
3 Renewables
CROCK OF THE WEEK BROUGHT TO YOU BY PETER SINCLAIR

An Open Letter to Congress From US Scientists on Climate Change and Recently Stolen Emails
As U.S. scientists with substantial expertise on climate change and its impacts on natural ecosystems, our built environment and human well-being, we want to assure policy makers and the public of the integrity of the underlying scientific research and the need for urgent action to reduce heat-trapping emissions. In the last few weeks, opponents of taking action on climate change have misrepresented both the content and the significance of stolen emails to obscure public understanding of climate science and the scientific process. We would like to set the record straight. The body of evidence that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming is overwhelming. The content of the stolen emails has no impact whatsoever on our overall understanding that human activity is driving dangerous levels of global warming.

Let's Look Before We Leap
We, civil society groups and social movements from around the world, understand the urgent need for real and lasting solutions to climate change. We recognise the deadly consequences that we all face if these are not achieved. We must urgently strengthen our resilience to meet the climate change challenge while dramatically reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.

World carbon emissions overshoot
OSLO (Reuters) - The world has emitted extra greenhouse gases this century equivalent to the annual totals of China and the United States above a maximum for avoiding the worst of climate change, a study estimated on Tuesday. Global accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers said in the report that almost all major nations, including European Union countries that pride themselves on climate policies, were lagging since 2000 in a push for low-carbon growth. It said the world was already far above a "budget" of total emissions of 1,300 billion tons of carbon dioxide from 2000-50 which it estimated as the maximum permissible while avoiding the worst of climate change.

Green Giant
China—On March 3, 1986, four of China’s top weapons scientists—each a veteran of the missile and space programs—sent a private letter to Deng Xiaoping, the leader of the country. Their letter was a warning: Decades of relentless focus on militarization had crippled the country’s civilian scientific establishment; China must join the world’s “new technological revolution,” they said, or it would be left behind. They called for an élite project devoted to technology ranging from biotech to space research. Then, in 2001, Chinese officials abruptly expanded one program in particular: energy technology. In 2006, Chinese leaders redoubled their commitment to new energy technology; they boosted funding for research and set targets for installing wind turbines, solar panels, hydroelectric dams, and other renewable sources of energy that were higher than goals in the United States. China doubled its wind-power capacity that year, then doubled it again the next year, and the year after. The country had virtually no solar industry in 2003; five years later, it was manufacturing more solar cells than any other country, winning customers from foreign companies that had invented the technology in the first place.

(EEMO) Report highlights turning point for Utilities
The report outlines how the global recession has put Utilities under pressure with expectations of a historical drop in global electricity consumption (-3.5%) and global gas demand (-3%), forcing them to take short-term and longer term measures:

Consumer Consequences: play the game
Welcome to Consumer Consequences, our interactive game designed to illustrate the impact of our lifestyles on the Earth. It's part of American Public Media's™ special series, "Consumed," which explores whether the modern American lifestyle is sustainable in the long run.

Is there energy to slow climate change?
If global warming's worst effects are to be averted, new energy sources must be developed on a massive scale. But there will be winners and losers in that process. Sarah Gardner and Sam Eaton take us to two locales with stakes in America's energy future. Scientists are telling us in order to escape the worst effects of global warming, it's going to take a huge transformation in how we make power. Some say the world needs to convert around 80 percent of the energy we now get from fossil fuels to cleaner alternatives.

The Climate Race
Businesses and governments around the world vie for profits in a low-carbon economy.

CITYgreen
Long Lake Township received a $3,465 grant to plant trees and The Watershed Center of Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City received a $19,110 grant to implement CITYgreen structure analysis. American Forests explains the software: CITYgreen analyzes the ecological and economic benefits of tree canopy and other green space. The analysis is based on a landcover dataset that is provided by the user. The source of the landcover dataset can be derived from a variety of sources, such as aerial photography or satellite imagery. The imagery should be leaf-on, color with a 4 meter or better resolution so all of the landcover features, such as individual trees, can be identified.

EnergyMap - your webguide to climate solutions
Find information about the latest energy and climate related technologies, projects, solutions, cases and events. You can also read about and contact the Danish companies and organizations involved.

Power the World with Zero Emissions
Follow this link to a map demonstrating how we can power the world with solar zero emissions energy. Now why wouldn't we want to lower the CO2 that is causing global climate change leading to catastrophic weather patterns? Let's do it!

Renewable energy plans approved for Traverse City Light & Power
State regulators approved renewable energy plans for 40 publicly owned utilities around Michigan, including Traverse City Light & Power Co. The Michigan State Public Service Commission on Wednesday approved renewable energy and energy optimization plans for dozens of municipal power companies, providing for rate increases and surcharges for the utilities to generate more renewable power and offer financial incentives and rebates to customers to reduce electricity use.

100 Coal Plants Prevented or Abandoned, Including 3 in Michigan PDF
As of today 100 coal plants have been defeated or abandoned since the beginning of the coal rush this century, including the Tondu Northern Lights Plant proposal in Manistee, the LS Power MidMichigan Energy plant proposal, and Northern Michigan University’s proposed heating plant in Michigan. In their place, a smart mix of clean energy solutions like energy efficiency, wind, solar and geothermal has stepped up to meet America’s energy needs. Last year 42 percent of all new power producing capacity came from wind, and for the first time the wind industry created more jobs than mining coal. Despite Michigan’s difficult economic situation, wind and solar energy manufacturing has been one of the bright spots for job creation in the state.

How Much Power Does Consumers Energy Corporation Need?
Groups list 37 problems with utility’s claim for a new coal plant. Falling demand for electricity may make it difficult for Consumers Energy to get permission to build a new coal plant near Bay City. Last month, Consumers Energy drew fire for proposing a surprisingly high monthly customer surcharge to help pay for its mandated shift toward more renewable energy. Clean-energy advocates and some businesses complained to the state that the surcharge was far too pricey. The regulators agreed, ordered Consumers to cut the proposed monthly fee by 16.6 percent, and warned that they would keep a close eye on the company’s expense estimates. Now Consumers is catching more heat, this time for its estimate of how much power it will need to make in the coming years to keep its customers’ lights on. The group "Clean Energy Now" said the analysis omitted important data that shows Consumers does not need to build the new plant, and that building it would interfere with increasingly successful efforts to create tens of thousands of green-energy manufacturing jobs in the state.

Mitigating Climate Change Through Food and Land Use
Land makes up a quarter of Earth’s surface,and its soil and plants hold three times as much carbon as the atmosphere. More than 30 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions arise from the land use sector. Thus, no strategy for mitigating global climate change can be complete or successful without land-based or “terrestrial” carbon sequestration offering the possibility of large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, through plant photosynthesis.

New small scale wind turbine manufacturer in Michigan
Windtronics, a start-up manufacturer of small-scale wind turbines for commercial and residential use, will invest $4.4 million to locate a manufacturing plant in Muskegon. The project is expected to create 462 new jobs, including 219 directly by the company and an additional 243 indirect jobs. Based on the MEDC recommendation, the MEGA board approved a state tax credit valued at $3.7 million over 10 years to convince the company to choose Michigan over a competing site in Oregon.

Help for farmers
Farmers, ranchers, and other rural small businesses have until July 31, 2009 to apply for grants or loan guarantees to assist with energy efficiency and renewable energy projects through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). REAP will provide funds to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to conduct energy audits and feasibility studies for renewable energy systems, for renewable energy development assistance, and to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements.

Clean Energy NowMichigan Energy Bills To Get Surcharges
LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan regulators are letting utilities add fees to energy bills to meet new renewable power and energy-efficiency requirements. Starting Sept. 1, Consumers Energy's residential electric customers will pay $2.50 a month for a renewable energy program. Beginning July 1, Consumers Energy's electric customers will pay 71 cents per month for a program designed to reduce power usage. The utility's natural gas customers will pay $1.72 a month for energy efficiency. [Editor: Rather than tax the polluter, Michigan taxes the solution. It is this backward thinking that continues to place Michigan as a leader in polution, rather than a leader in solutions.]

Take green path, US business warned
Businesses must not sink money into high-carbon infrastructure unless they are willing to lose their investments within a few years, the US lead negotiator on climate change has warned. Investors should take note, he warned, that high emissions must be curbed, which would hurt businesses that failed to embark now on a low-carbon path. "How good will the business judgment of companies that make high-carbon choices now look in five, 10, 20 years, when it becomes clear that heavily polluting infrastructure has become deadly and must be phased out before the end of its useful life?" Companies investing in such goods and services - such as coal-fired power plants and gas-guzzling cars - could start to incur heavy economic penalties in the near future for their greenhouse gas output.

Water Worries Shape Local Energy Decisions
Last month, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, a utility that provides power to mostly rural areas, agreed to conduct a major study to see if it might meet growing energy needs through energy efficiency and not a big, new coal-fired power plant, as it had proposed. One reason for the move was a challenge about the amount of water a new plant would require, as mounting concerns about water begin to shape local energy decisions. Renewable-energy projects such as wind farms or solar arrays are gaining momentum because their water needs are minimal. "There's no water requirement with solar," said Mac McLennan, senior vice president for Tri-State, based in Westminster, Colo. Advocates for alternative energy are discovering that water issues may prove to be as important a selling point for the industry as reducing carbon-dioxide emissions.

Federal Appeals Court Orders EPA to Review Pollution Limit
WASHINGTON—(FEBRUARY 24, 2009) A federal court ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider limits on particulate air pollution, marking another victory for states and environmental groups which have challenged Bush administration environmental rules favored by industry.

“I don't think there's another industry out there that has had the growth in manufacturing operations in the U.S. that wind energy has ...”

Wind power growth means manufacturing opportunity for Michigan
The decline of manufacturing in Michigan and the United States has closely followed globalization and its downhill trajectory toward sourcing components and assembly from low-cost nations like China and Mexico. But the gradual emergence of a domestic U.S. wind energy industry appears to be countering that trend by coupling concerns over economic and environmental sustainability with logistic practicalities. "The directive we have in my group is to look for localized content 100 percent. So sourcing America for America," said Gene Cuenot, a purchaser for Vestas' nacelles division. Last year marked the best year ever for the U.S. wind industry, which recently surpassed Germany as the largest market for installed wind turbines, said Jim Walker, president of the American Wind Energy Association. Total investments in wind energy projects in the U.S., which made up 42 percent of all power capacity installed, grew from $700 million in 2004 to nearly $18 billion last year. Michigan now has more than 35 companies supplying components or services to the wind energy industry, a number that is quickly growing, said Dan Radomski, vice president for industry services for Detroit-based NextEnergy.

Companies Poised for Growth Under Cap on Carbon
February 27, 2009 - Environmental Defense Fund today released a groundbreaking online map that identifies and profiles more than 1,200 companies in key manufacturing states poised to grow their business and create new jobs when Congress passes a cap on global warming pollution. The interactive map, online at LessCarbonMoreJobs.org, was released at the first meeting of Vice President Joe Biden's task force on middle class jobs in Philadelphia. It highlights hundreds of companies and communities in coal country, the rust belt and other manufacturing regions poised to benefit from demand for clean energy technologies created by a cap on carbon.

Finalists Selected in Michigan Clean Energy Prize Competition
The Clean Energy Prize competition was founded this year to help move clean energy technologies from the laboratory to commercial production. DTE Energy, through its DTE Energy Ventures subsidiary, and U-M, are challenging teams from Michigan colleges and universities to develop the best business plans for bringing new clean energy technologies to market. The competition is a rigorous, multi-round process geared to reward top clean energy business ideas and provide students with experience and expert feedback on what it takes to create a successful clean energy startup business. Each successive round requires more information about the proposed business -- leading up to a full business plan -- to be submitted by the finalists.

$500 million for green jobs training!
These green investments are critical to creating green jobs and are a vital down payment on a green collar economy. That's why President Obama and Congress passed a bold, green recovery package that includes $500 million for green job training. Now our challenge is to direct those millions and billions of dollars towards the communities that are most in need, and the programs that are most effective. Thanks to our collective efforts, this recovery package will make a significant investment in people and the planet.

Wind Installations Continue To Break Records Across the Globe
According to new a new report from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), as of 2008 the U.S. has become the world's largest player in terms of total wind power installations. "These figures speak for themselves: there is huge and growing global demand for emissions-free wind power, which can be installed quickly, virtually everywhere in the world." Global wind capacity grew by almost 29% to reach close to 121 GW at the end of 2008 while the global wind market for turbine installations for the year was worth about €36.5 billion [US $47.5 billion]. The U.S. wind energy industry shattered all previous records in 2008 by installing 8358 MW of new generating capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

Scientists to Tap Michigan River Currents to Create Clean Energy
What Bernitsas envisions is groups of cylinders in frames on the ocean bed or in streams, perpendicular to currents. As the water flow hits the cylinders, it creates vortices that cause the cylinders to move up and down. That energy drives generators to make electricity, which goes through cables to the electrical grid on land. The size, number and placement of the cylinders depends on the body of water. In the Detroit River, he plans 21 cylinders, each about 10 inches in diameter and 16 feet long, suspended in frames mid river on the U.S. side, which will create 3 kilowatts of energy around the clock to power lights on the dock. This electricity is clean, infinitely renewable _ "as long as the sun, the Earth and the moon move as they do now," he jokes _ and doesn't harm the environment. The cylinders will be far enough apart that fish can swim through them and deep enough to avoid ships, boats and fishing lines. "It's a really creative project," said John Kerr, director of economic development for the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority. VIVACE's electricity will be cheaper to produce than solar or wind energy _ at 5.5 cents per kilowatt hour _ and cheaper than coal plants if controlling their carbon emissions is accounted for, he said, because the devices are simple and require little maintenance. The cylinders should go into the Detroit River within 12 to 14 months, followed by further testing.

Michigan Gets Advanced Battery Manufacturing Facility
After talking up advanced battery development for years, Michigan is finally on the map as a key players. General Motors Corp. Chairman Rick Wagoner announced today that GM will manufacture lithium-ion battery packs in Michigan for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, and will also open a 31,000-square-foot battery research lab in the state. But that’s just the start, Michigan economic development officials believe.

Wind Turbine Manufacturing Comes to Manistee Michigan
Manistee County is in the running to be the new home to manufacturing operations for Mariah Windpower. Resulting from a partnership formed between Mariah Power and MasTech Manufacturing Manistee County stands to gain 116 new jobs. Mariah Power offers a vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT), the Windspire. The Windspire offers an affordable choice for renewable energy for homes and businesses. Mariah is expected to begin production with 100 units per month, quickly increasing to 300 – 400 per month over the next year. Within two years they expect to produce 1000 units per month for residential, business and government use.

Little Time Left To Curb Global Warming
When Bill Clinton took office in 1993, global warming was a slow-moving environmental problem that was easy to ignore. Now it is a ticking time bomb that President-elect Barack Obama can’t avoid. Since Clinton’s inauguration, summer Arctic sea ice has lost the equivalent of Alaska, California and Texas. The 10 hottest years on record have occurred since Clinton’s second inauguration. Global warming is accelerating. Time is close to running out, and Obama knows it. “ The time for delay is over; the time for denial is over,” he said after meeting with former Vice President Al Gore, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on global warming. “We all believe what the scientists have been telling us for years now that this is a matter of urgency and national security and it has to be dealt with in a serious way.”

Leaving Michigan Behind
People are leaving Michigan at a staggering rate. About 109,000 more people left Michigan last year than moved in. It is one of the worst rates in the nation, quadruple the loss of just eight years ago. The state loses a family every 12 minutes, and the families who are leaving -- young, well-educated high-income earners. Since 2001, migration has cost Michigan 465,000 people, the equivalent of the combined populations of Grand Rapids, Warren and Sterling Heights -- the state's second-, third- and fourth-largest cities. University of Michigan economist Don Grimes. "You can't grow your economy if you're shrinking. You basically have an infrastructure built around a certain size of economy, and if you shrink below that scale, you have fewer people to support the infrastructure."

In Michigan: Less People + Less Jobs = Less Energy Required: Say NO to proposed new Filthy Coal Power Plants
No surprise, really, to anyone who knows what Michigan is going through that the state lost people again in the most recent Census reckonings -- 46,368 people, to be precise, more than any other state. People are leaving Michigan for the same reason that thousands once came here: work. And the population that's hanging in is relatively older, meaning fewer children are being born in Michigan than in other states. This marks the third straight year Michigan has lost people.

...we are at least 25-years behind the curve on addressing human contributions to global climate change. And there's simply no way normal market forces are going to spend what it will take to catch up. In fact many industries, like coal and oil, have taken a page right out of the old Big Tobacco playbook, pumping out junk science and junkier scientists to counter such efforts.

Clean Energy Now! It's Our Best Hope for Recovery
The transition to a clean-energy economy is not some luxury that we can only afford in good financial times. In fact, it can easily be argued that investing in domestic production of solar power, wind energy, sustainable biofuels, electric vehicles, smart-grid technologies, and dozens of other clean-tech sectors may be the best way out of this fiscal mess. Clean tech takes on the "triple threat" facing the United States: climate change, national security, and economic recovery.

Global Warming: The Debate Heats Up
It's safe to say that 2008 was an unsettling year, perhaps best described with one word: volatility. It leapt out of the gates like a purebred racehorse being chased by a bear. The oil sands were booming. Commodities like potash and metals were on fire. Oil was on its march toward $147 (U.S.) a barrel. The Canadian housing market continued to shine. And the stock market went along for the ride. Mid-way through the year the racehorse didn't just lose its steam. It broke its leg and did a face plant in the dirt. The bear caught up and started dining. If you're concerned about global warming the news isn't all that bad. Sure, tight credit has made it difficult for renewable-energy developers to pay for large-scale, capital-intensive projects, but the best of these projects are still getting through. Besides, the global recession means we'll probably see a material decline in greenhouse emissions for 2008 because people are driving less, industries are shrinking, and construction activity has come to a halt. Call it the upside of the downside.

Coal Industry Hands Out Pink Slips While Green Collar Jobs Take Off
Washington, D.C.-A transition to renewable energy sources promises significant global job gains at a time when the coal industry has been hemorrhaging jobs for years, according to the latest Vital Signs Update released by the Worldwatch Institute. The coal, oil, and natural gas industries require steadily fewer jobs as high-cost production equipment takes the place of human capital. Many hundreds of thousands of coal mining jobs have been shed in China, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, and South Africa during the last two decades, sometimes in the face of expanding production. In the United States alone, coal industry employment has fallen by half in the last 20 years, despite a one-third increase in production. "Renewables are poised to tackle our energy crisis and create millions of new jobs worldwide," according to Worldwatch Senior Researcher Michael Renner. "Meanwhile, fossil fuel jobs are increasingly becoming fossils themselves, as coal mining communities and others worry about their livelihoods."

Clean energy may hold the key to diversifying Michigan's economy
For far too long, Michigan in general and the Detroit area in particular have depended too much on the auto industry. It's a bad idea to put all your eggs in one basket, and Michigan has suffered as the Big Three have lost market share over the last 30 years, culminating in a bailout attempt to head off a possible collapse. In the face of this gloomy scenario, it is more important than ever for Michigan to diversify its economy away from the automotive sector. Even if a federal bailout is approved and all the Big Three survive, they are unlikely to replace all the jobs they have lost. The best opportunity for economic diversification in Michigan can be found in President-Elect Barack Obama's New Energy for America Plan, a 10-year, $150 billion proposal to reduce dependence on foreign oil, implement energy efficiency and conservation practices, cap carbon dioxide emissions, and expand economic opportunities by developing and using clean and renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and geothermal.

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