Summary documentation on adverse effects of Biomass plants
1. Emissions Comparison Data :
BURNING WOOD IS “DIRTIER THAN BURNING COAL” (on per kwh generated basis) www.nobiomassburn.org/2010/01/emissions-comparison-data/
2. BioMass is not “Clean” or “Green” (fact sheet)
3. BioMass Combustion is Not Carbon Neutral (fact sheet)
4. Biomass is even worse than coal in terms of global warming (and some other key air pollutants)
the Manomet study that led Massachusetts to impose strict regulations on biomass incinerators, since they realized that implementing their renewable energy law in a way that causes biomass incinerators to be built will make it harder for the state to meet their own global warming law. www.energyjustice.net/biomass/ & http://www.maforests.org/MFW_Man.pdf &
Biofuel worse for climate than fossil fuel: study
5. links to statements by medical associations opposing biomass incinerators on health grounds. http://www.energyjustice.net/biomass/medicalstatements.pdf http://
Fixing a Critical Climate Accounting Error, CLIMATE CHANGE : www.sciencemag.org SCIENCE VOL 326 23 OCTOBER 2009
Timothy D. Searchinger,1* Steven P. Hamburg,2* Jerry Melillo,3 William Chameides,4Petr Havlik,5 Daniel M. Kammen,6 Gene E. Likens,7 Ruben N. Lubowski,2 Michael Obersteiner,5Michael Oppenheimer,1 G. Philip Robertson,8 William H. Schlesinger,7 G. David Tilman9
Rules for applying the Kyoto Protocol and national cap-and-trade laws contain a major, but fixable, carbon accounting flaw in assessing bioenergy.
(not taking land use effects on global warming into account) www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/326/5952/527
A global biofuels program will lead to intense pressures on land supply and can increase greenhouse gas emissions from land-use changes. Using linked economic and terrestrial biogeochemistry models, we examined direct and indirect effects of possible land-use changes from an expanded global cellulosic bioenergy program on greenhouse gas emissions over the 21st century. Our model predicts that indirect land use will be responsible for substantially more carbon loss (up to twice as much) than direct land use; however, because of predicted increases in fertilizer use, nitrous oxide emissions will be more important than carbon losses themselves in terms of warming potential. A global greenhouse gas emissions policy that protects forests and encourages best practices for nitrogen fertilizer use can dramatically reduce emissions associated with biofuels production.
1 The Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), 7
MBL Street, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA.
2 Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 77 Massachusetts Avenue, MIT E19-411, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307, USA.
3 Department of Economics, University of São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto 4EES, Brazil.
4 Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lehigh University, 31 Williams Drive, Bethlehem, PA 18015, USA.
5 School of Public Administration, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310000, Zhejiang Province, People’s Republic of China (PRC).
* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: email@example.com
Increasing energy use, climate change, and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels make switching to low-carbon fuels a high priority. Biofuels are a potential low-carbon energy source, but whether biofuels offer carbon savings depends on how they are produced. Converting rainforests, peatlands, savannas, or grasslands to produce food crop–based biofuels in Brazil, Southeast Asia, and the United States creates a "biofuel carbon debt" by releasing 17 to 420 times more CO2 than the annual greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions that these biofuels would provide by displacing fossil fuels. In contrast, biofuels made from waste biomass or from biomass grown on degraded and abandoned agricultural lands planted with perennials incur little or no carbon debt and can offer immediate and sustained GHG advantages.
1 The Nature Conservancy, 1101 West River Parkway, Suite 200,
Minneapolis, MN 55415, USA.
2 Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA.
3 Department of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA. * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Advanced biofuels will stoke global warming: Study By Gerard Wynn and Timothy Gardner, Reuters October 23, 2009 www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE59L4V920091022 The emissions of nitrous oxide from fertilizer use has been greatly underestimated- Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, www.i-sis.org.uk/falseAccountingForBiofuels.php
6. TRUTHOUT on biomass
7. HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS of INCINERATORS
8. Health Effects of Nanotechnology and Nano Particles
9. Incinerators in Disguise Documentation - Plasma Arc/ Biomass Incinerators , Health Information
10. Incinerator Ash – Toxic metal levels
11. DEP Florida BioMass Permit List:
12. Why incineration is a very bad idea in the Twenty First Century.
by Paul Connett, PhD www.flcv.com/IncAEHSP.html
Waste Incineration http://www.energyjustice.net/biomass/
Waste incineration is the worst category of biomass. Providing increased waste disposal capacity worsens the waste problem by lowering the costs associated with waste generation. It also destroys resources (some of which are best recycled or composted), and turns them into toxic ash and toxic air emissions. Wastes that cannot be reused, recycled or composted cleanly ought to be stabilized through digestion, then landfilled rather than incinerated.
What makes waste dangerous is not its volume, but its toxicity. People don't usually die from waste falling on them, but exposure to toxic constituents of wastes can cause all sorts of health and environmental problems. When wastes are incinerated, their toxic constituents are liberated into breathable air emissions and the toxic ash contaminates groundwater. The ash that is left then has a higher surface area and is more dangerous in a landfill, where rainwater will leach out the toxins more readily than if the waste is left unburned. Incinerator ash has been promoted for such applications as ingredients in cement, fill for reclaiming mines, fertilizer, biochar11 (charcoal), industrial tile and road base. These are more dangerous than landfilling, bringing contamination closer to where they can harm people.
Incineration has become a dirty word since activists have stopped hundreds of incinerators since the 1980s. Newer types (gasification, plasma arc and pyrolysis) claim not to be incinerators, but share the same fundamental problems.12
Trash incineration comprises 28% of existing "biopower" capacity in the U.S. In the extended Mid-Atlantic area (Virginia to New York), trash incineration makes up 66% of such capacity.13 Waste and energy corporations have a lot to lose if trash incineration is not considered renewable.
Tires contain many toxic constituents, which make burning them hazardous. Halogens in tires cause hazardous emissions when burned such as dioxins, furans, PCBs, and chlorobenzenes. Toxic metals such as mercury, lead, arsenic and chromium are also released when burning tires.14 Many other hazardous air pollutants are released from burning tires with studies having shown tire burning to be dirtier than coal.15 While not widely promoted as biomass, tire burning has been considered in some federal biomass research programs16 and corporations have promoted tire incinerators as renewable energy facilities – seeking to benefit from state renewable energy mandates.17
10· Dioxin Information http://www.ejnet.org/dioxin/
11· Ernsting and Smolker. Biochar for Climate Change Mitigation: Fact or Fiction? February 2008. http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/docs/biocharbriefing.pdf
12· Incineration and Incinerators-in-Disguise http://www.energyjustice.net/incineration/
13· Operating Biopower Capacity (1999), by Fuel Type, World Electric Power Plants Database, Utility Data Institute / McGraw-Hill Companies, June 1999. The extended Mid-Atlantic area includes Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.
14· Greenpeace, "Tire Incineration and Toxic Emissions: New data from the Modesto Incinerator, Westly, CA." http://www.energyjustice.net/tires/files/greenpeaceletter.html
15· Lone Star Chapter Sierra Club, "Comments on Resolution 97-425 to Authorize Tire-Derived Fuel Use in Cement Kilns and Utility Boilers for Energy Recovery," submitted to California Integrated Management Board, October 22, 1997. The comments showed there to be increases in the following pollutants emitted from co-firing whole tires with coal vs. burning only coal: NOx, SO2, CO, particulate matter, chlorine, benzene, dioxins, PAHs, chromium VI, copper, lead, mercury, and zinc. http://www.energyjustice.net/tires/files/carman1997ciwmb.pdf
16· "Summary of the First Annual Biomass Resource Assessment Review Task V," August 24th, 1995." At the end of this meeting report, they listed research priorities, in which burning tires was listed as a low research priority which didn't receive any votes, but which is "important and should not be overlooked entirely." http://rredc.nrel.gov/biomass/portland.html
17· ERE’s attempt to get tires in the PA AEPS; also a car company in Detroit had promoted tire burning as rewewable (Ecology Center had it in its newsletter one year)
13. Incinerators in Disguise
Incinerators with names like "gasification," "pyrolysis," "plasma arc," and "waste-to-energy" all emit dioxins and other harmful pollutants, despite industry claims that they are "green" technologies. www.flcv.com/IncinDis.html
biomass powerpoint from Kevin Bundy of the Center for
15. MMS Testimony In Support of House No. 4458, "An Act to Limit Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Renewable and Alternative Energy Sources"
16. Federal Documents Useful in Environmental Justice Actions
17. Environmental Cost Related to Toxic Pollutants www.flcv.com/cap.html
(note this contains information on environmental cost of incinerators)
18. Environmental Cost Related to Mercury Emissions www.flcv.com/mercost.html
19. Air Pollution Effects on Children at Schools, www.flcv.com/AirToxSc.html
20. Air Quality Bad for 40 Percent of Americans http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/03/10/25447.htm
22. A picture of what is burned ("residues") at the Lockerbie biomasspower stations in Scotland
"The plant, which is being part-funded by an 18m grant from the national lottery, will initially burn forest residue - sawdust, branches and offcuts - from a nearby sawmill, but E.ON hopes that local farmers will switch to fast-growing willow to provide part of the plant 's fuel." http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2005/oct/13/business.climatechange
photo is on the Mass Forest Watch website, scroll down about a page.
23. Biomass Briefing, October 2009
Massachusetts Environmental Energy Alliance www.massenvironmentalenergy.org
in Smoke : Why Biomass Wood Energy is
Not the Answer
25. Logging economics in relation to biomass
Contrary to the claims about the revenue generated by logging, in fact, when all of the costs are taken into account, the Forest Service’s timber sale program is a net money loser, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars per year. The best study that I’m aware of, albeit about a decade old now, is: http://www.johnmuirproject.org/pdf/Fy-1997-Economic-Report-Ending-Timber-Sales.pdf
As noted in the report, this research was verified by the Congressional Research Service, the non-partisan research arm of the US Congress.
Role of Natural Forests in Carbon Storage, Part 1:
Green Carbon Account of Australia's South-Eastern Eucalypt Forests, and Policy
Implications <http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/titles.html>: *Green Carbon: The Role of
Natural Forests in Carbon Storage, Part 1: A Green Carbon Account of
Australia's South-Eastern Eucalypt Forests, and Policy
27. Adage Biomass Plant, Hamilton County – Citizen Comments/Objections to Permit Application
28. Leaving logging debris after logging suppresses competitors to conifer seedlings and improves the stand and growth of the replanted seedlings.
of logging debris treatments on five-year
development of competing vegetation and planted Douglas-fir, Canadian Journal of Forest
Research, Harrington and Schoenholtz. USDA Forest
Service Pacific Northwest Research Station.
Another problem caused by deforestation: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=3868542&id=70036638021
Facts on myths about cleanness and greenness of Biomass:
Biomass burning for electrical generation is about 30% dirtier than
coal combustion per unit of energy produced. Bad for climate change and
definitely not green?.
2) The particulate matter released in biomass combustion is very
damaging to human biology. PM-2.5 particles (2.5 microns) and nano particles
(less than a micron) will be emitted by thousands of tons into the air.
Asthmatics, people with emphysema and cardio-pulmonary diseases will be
severely impacted. New medical information suggests that such material can
even cause premature births. These diseases are expensive to treat and would
exacerbate our already burgeoning health care costs. Preventing dirtier air
is the better choice.
3) Previous assumptions about burning trees were that the younger fast
growing trees sequestered more carbon than the older ones (200+ years).
Recent studies in Canada and Alaska indicate that the opposite is true.
Older trees store more carbon than younger ones and it takes a minimum of 20
years of new growth till the younger trees begin to sequester carbon and at
least 100 years before the forest sequesters what is lost through clear
cutting and the soil disturbance associated with it. Much of the carbon held
in a forest is held in the humus in forest soils. This would be cutting off
our noses to spite our forest face.
4) The economics of biomass burning are totally distorted and out of
phase with normal ?free-market? economics. Recent federal grants and
subsidies in the so-called ?Stimulus Package? are the cause of the
proliferation of these plants. There are many people looking to make lots of
money quickly. Plants that are begun in 2010 and are completed by 2013 will
recover about 30% of their capital costs, courtesy of the American taxpayer.
Here we go again-enriching a few at the great expense of the many!
5) Companies can also claim ZERO carbon emissions because there is a
loophole in the “renewable energy rules” at the EPA that exempt counting the
emission of CO2 in biomass burners. This is a deadly and dangerous rule
based on false assumptions. Dr. Sammons and anyone who took a high school
chemistry class knows that two things are always emitted from the combustion
of organic matter-CARBON DIOXIDE and WATER. Claims to the contrary are *false
and foolishly dangerous *during our discussion of global climate change and
possible human influences. Liberty Green has made such claims in Indiana.
Biomass burners must be treated on an equal footing with other forms of
combustion to electricity plants. No exemptions based on false assumptions!
Chart showing plant emissions comparing coal, natural gas, and biomass combustion.
American Lung Association of New England Letter to Senator Kerry Opposing Biomass Combustion
Heartwood Alliance report on forestry impacts of biomass burning.
Public Health Impacts of Biomass Burning: Letter to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Children's Health, 10/20/09, from medical doctors.
October 20, 2009 letter from EcoLaw to Representatives Waxman and Markey on flaws in U.S. EPA model of emissions under H.R. 2454.
EcoLaw shows there are no facts underlying the U.S. EPA's "assumption" that biomass burning is "carbon neutral" in a letter to the Congressional Research Service.
A report on why burning to generate electricity is not "clean and green:" Industry Blowing Smoke, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, June 15, 2009
For an overview of why burning forests and garbage should not be considered "clean and green": Biomass and Other Burning Under H.R. 2454 Raises Atmospheric CO2 (Notes from Presentation), Presentation by Attorney Sheehan, U.S. House of Representatives, June 19, 2009
Fact summary comparing wood burning biomass to coal: Why is Biomass Burning Considered "clean and green" in the RES of the House Climate Change bill, H.R. 2454? It is neither! by Massachusetts Environmental Energy Alliance, June 2009
30. Health Effects of Incineration and Economic Considerations www.flcv.com/incineff.html
31. Once-hidden EU report reveals environmental damage from biofuels
Reuters, 21 April 2010 - Biofuels such as biodiesel from soy beans can create up to four times more climate-warming emissions than standard diesel or petrol, according to an EU document released under freedom of information laws.
32. Congressional Hearing: Liquid Coal a net loser on environment including CO2 and economics
Rep. Doggett detailed the problems of liquid coal, which the coal industry has pushed as a replacement for “foreign oil,” even though it has twice the carbon emissions of conventional gasoline. Joseph Romm of the Center for American Progress, who testified at the hearing, called liquid coal “staggeringly expensive” and pointed out that “no independent study finds any net public value from coal-to-liquids.” www.valleywatch.net
33. Hoodwinked in the Hothouse: False Solutions to Climate Change.* www.risingtidenorthamerica.org/wordpress/category/front-page/
*Rising Tide North
America and Carbon Trade Watch are pleased to
announce the 2nd edition of /Hoodwinked in the Hothouse: False
Solutions to Climate Change.*
This 28-page booklet provides a close-to-comprehensive overview of false
solutions to climate change. Fifteen concise articles complete with
photos and illustrations cover more than 20 false solutions to climate
change, from Clean Coal to Biomass incineration, providing an
easy-to-read introduction to the ever expanding market place of climate
34. Sustainable Ag and Zero Waste Solutions www.energyjustice.net/biomass/
Agriculture wastes include, but are not limited to, orchard tree crops, vineyard, grain, legumes, sugar, and other crop byproducts or residues as well as nuts, shells, hulls, and other food processing wastes. Crop wastes should be tilled back into the soil to promote soil health, tilth, fertility, and nurturing of the organisms remaining within the soil. Where this is impractical, crop residues ought to be composted or recycled into paper products, not destroyed in incinerators.
While animal factory wastes could include corporate hog factory wastes, dairy factory wastes, beef feedlot wastes, and more, these are usually too wet to be burned (though are used in digesters to provide "biomass" power).32 However, poultry litter (chicken and turkey manure and the wood chip bedding it falls on) is dry enough to be incinerated for electricity production. Britain's Fibrowatt has proposed many throughout the U.S. and Europe.33 They have successfully lobbied state and federal politicians to get poultry waste incineration included in renewable energy laws.34 Due to weaker pollution control requirements on biomass incinerators, new poultry waste incinerators are more polluting than new coal plants for some of the major criteria air pollutants.35 Community groups in several U.S. states and in other countries have organized to stop poultry waste incinerators, sometimes joined by farmer advocacy groups, since farmers see poultry litter as valuable fertilizer.
Energy crops are typically fast growing trees (like poplar or willow) or grasses like switchgrass. These are prime targets for genetic engineering. Biotech grass seed has been found to contaminate native grass as far as 13 miles away.36 Switchgrass has been found to have 7 times as much chlorine as coal in an Iowa study.37 Chlorine in wheat straw has been found to have so much chlorine as to be corrosive to boilers.38 There are no organic requirements for these crops. Toxic herbicides and wastes used as fertilizers have introduced contaminants to switchgrass crops,39 that can be taken up by the crops. In phytoremediation schemes, plants suck up toxins from contaminated sites.40 Contaminants are released when these trees and grasses are later burned.
Gas-based biomass includes digester gas and landfill gas. Digesters essentially compost waste in a vessel, producing a gas that is mostly methane. This can make sense for sewage sludge and animal wastes, but renewable energy policies shouldn't subsidize waste management for animal factories.41 Landfill gas burning for energy is toxic and actually worse for global warming than not burning for energy. See our landfill gas factsheet for details.42
Sustainable agriculture is an energy and climate solution, but not by growing and burning things. Biomass incineration is not a waste or energy solution, though, as it is the most polluting and energy-wasting way to manage materials.43 "Zero waste" strategies (including reduce, reuse, recycle...) can nearly eliminate the need for landfills and incinerators, benefiting the climate and saving energy and materials.44
32· There's an exception in a proposal for direct combustion of hog waste in North Carolina. Visit the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League for further information and resources. www.bredl.org/
33· FibroWATCH: The Campaign to STOP Fibrowatt and Poultry Litter Incineration www.energyjustice.net/fibrowatch/
34· Such as the Federal Renewable Energy Tax Credit. State level subsidies exist in at least MN, NC, and AR. Specifically, see House Bill 1180, "The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999" became Public Law No. 106-170 when passed on 12/17/1999.
35· Alternative Resources Incorporated, A Review of the Air Emissions from a Fibrowatt 50-MW Power Plant Fueled with Poultry Litter, Prepared for Fibrowatt, LLC, Feb, 2000. This report shows that NOx and carbon monoxide emissions from Fibrowatt's proposed turkey litter incinerator in Minnesota would be a little higher than coal plant emissions. It also shows that acid gases (sulfur dioxide and hydrogen chloride) and particulate matter (PM10) would be about the same as coal plant emissions.
36· "Genes From Engineered Grass Spread for Miles, Study Finds," New York Times, Sept. 21, 2004. www.nytimes.com/2004/09/21/business/21grass.html
37· "Results From the Chariton Valley Biomass Project -- Switchgrass Co-Fire Testing," Wade A. Amos, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO, p2. Presented at BioEnergy 2002 Conference.
38· Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, Idaho Falls, ID. "Selective Harvest of Higher Value Wheat Straw Components," study reveals corrosion to the boilers from chlorine present in the biomass.
39· 2,4-D (a chlorinated herbicide that is half of agent orange) and poultry litter were used on the switchgrass demonstration project in Chariton Valley, Iowa. Another swithgrass project in Florida has used sewage effluent and some have even discussed using sewage sludge.
40· Phytoremediation. www.energyjustice.net/biomass/phyto.html
41· Anaerobic Digesters. www.energyjustice.net/digesters/
42· Landfill Gas Factsheet. www.energyjustice.net/lfg/
43· Zero Waste for Zero Warming report prepared by GAIA. According to EPA statistics cited in the report, Recyling mixed paper saves 9 times the amount of energy generated by incinerating the paper. www.energyjustice.net/biomass/GAIA_Incinerators_vs_ZeroWaste.pdf
45. FOREST ECOSYSTEMS ARE CARBON SINKS THAT CAN PROVIDE A SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTION TO CARBON STORAGE AND
46. Researchers find carbon offsets aren't justified for removing understory www.eenews.net/climatewire/print/2010/08/19/5
47. Biomass Harmful Health Effects www.slideshare.net/thombanjo/forest-biomass-incineration-in-new-england
48. Mercury in smoke from biomass fires. Geophysical Research Letters (28:17, p.3223-3226). Friedli HR, Radke LF, Lu JY (2001). From the abstract: "From the laboratory experiments we project that mercury emitted from temperate/boreal forest fires and from all biomass burning is an important source components for the atmospheric mercury budget”. From the Summary & Conclusions: "The combustion of litter and green vegetation under controlled burn conditions resulted in essentially complete release of mercury contained in fuel. This is different and higher than releases reported for some coal and biomass burning. Highest mercury concentrations were found in litter, reflecting accumulation of dry and wet deposition mercury over growing seasons. A suggested regional difference in mercury concentrations in vegetation coincides with the known highest dry/wet deposition rates in the US
northeast and northwest. Mercury is emitted almost exclusively as elemental mercury (TGM, >95%) and thus joins the global pool. ..."