Boeing and its Chinese partner, Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC), are building a production line to turn gutter oil (used cooking oil) into aviation fuel. They can produce half a ton of the fuel daily, starting next month. This would be a minute proportion of China's jet fuel use, 20 million tonnes per year. Commercial scale use of gutter fuel could be 10 years away, if supported by government stimulus.
- by Michaelann Bewsee, August 21, 2014, Arise for Social Justice
Funny how bad news can make you want to fight even harder for justice.
Remember the community’s fight to keep a biomass plant out of Springfield? Yesterday we found out that the Land Court granted Palmer Renewable Energy’s request to reinstate their building permit, undoing the Springfield Zoning Board’s decision that the building permit was invalid. That means that PRE gets its building permit back unless we and/or the City of Springfield can find a way to stop them.
How can we stop them? Stay tuned for more on that, but if you know Arise, and the coalition we formed, Stop Toxic Incineration in Springfield, then you should know by now that we don’t give up.
I’m still sorting out the legalities of the decision, but as I’m understanding it right now, the Court held that seeing as the City of Springfield didn’t require a special permit for other kinds of waste incineration, why start now? And the Court held that green wood chips are not waste, even though those wood chips will come from waste wood! Therefore, PRE’s Building Permit should be restored.
This fascinating map from National Geographic shows the proportion of the world's crops that are grown for direct human consumption (in green) versus all the crops that are grown for animal feed or biofuels (in purple):
Crops grown for food (green) versus for animal feed and fuel (purple)
JUST 55% OF THE WORLD'S CROP CALORIES ARE DIRECTLY EATEN BY PEOPLE
Just 55 percent of the world's crop calories are actually eaten directly by people. Another 36 percent is used for animal feed. And the remaining 9 percent goes toward biofuels and other industrial uses. (Those figures come from this paper by Emily Cassidy and other researchers at the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment.)
The proportions are even more striking in the United States, where just 27 percent of crop calories are consumed directly — wheat, say, or fruits and vegetables grown in California. By contrast, more than 67 percent of crops — particularly all the soy grown in the Midwest — goes to animal feed. And a portion of the rest goes to ethanol and other biofuels.
Some of that animal feed eventually becomes food, obviously — but it's a much, much more indirect process. It takes about 100 calories of grain to produce just 12 calories of chicken or 3 calories worth of beef, for instance.
The map itself comes from Jonathan Foley's fascinating, visually rich exploration in National Geographic of how we can possibly feed everyone as the world's population grows from 7 billion today to 9 billion by mid-century. (Foley directs the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment.)
Feeding 9 billion people won't be easy: that's basically like adding two new Indias to the world in the next few decades. And, making matters even trickier, humans have now cultivated most of the world's arable land and are pushing up against the limits of freshwater consumption. So the traditional strategy of "find new farmland to grow more food" is getting even harder.
FEEDING 9 BILLION PEOPLE WON'T BE EASY
There are lots of possible strategies here. Farmers could increase agricultural productivity by boosting crop yields — either through new farming techniques or through improved crop genetics. But even if the rapid rate of improvement in crop yields over the 20th century continued, that still wouldn't produce enough food for everyone.
Another possibility, as the map above shows, is that the world could devote more existing farmland back to feeding people. Again, as the numbers suggest, just 55 percent of crop calories go directly toward people. The rest goes toward biofuels or animal feed. Humans can't eat biofuels, obviously. And animal feed is also an inefficient way of feeding people — about one-tenth as efficient, on a calorie basis, as eating crops directly.
One implication of that is that, as countries like China and India grow and consume more milk and meat, the pressure on global farmland will grow. But, alternatively, if the world shifted even a small portion of its diet away from resource-intensive meats or grew fewer biofuels, we could wring more food calories out of existing farmland.
There are other strategies too, which Foley details in his piece. Many countries still don't farm as efficiently as they could due to insufficient fertilizer use. And a lot of food still gets wasted, either by consumers or due to poor storage infrastructure. One of Foley's colleagues, Paul West, recently published a paper inScience showing that farming tweaks in just a handful of countries could fix a lot of these inefficiencies.
On September 17, 2009, SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon PLC (SGSOC) signed a contract (Establishment Convention) with the Cameroonian Government to develop a large industrial palm oil plantation and refinery. The Establishment Convention stipulates the conditions which apply to SGSOC activities in Cameroon and requires the SGSOC to respect the laws of Cameroon. But the same Establishment Convention also claims to take precedence over Cameroonian law as well as over certain international agreements.
With lack of transparency, human rights abuses, allegations of illegal logging, corruption and intimidation, Herakles Farms (SGSOC) was sinking as investors fled, no revenue and employees absences, with the few remaining eagerly supporters a new management was set-up (Herakles 2). The new management purchased Uniprovince in 2013 with the intention of generating substantial revenue for themselves and devotees by selling Timber logs from the concession. Herakles 2 had to surrender all the Timber logs in its concession to the government as promised. Apparently the new management did not take this kindly and so looked for another way of taking possession of the wood using Uniprovince. The new management using the establishment to obtained a Presidential Decree to finally officialise Herakles Farms 2 presence in Cameroon. The comeback was so impressive Herakles Farms was even named to Global Exchange's prestigious top 10 corporate criminals list. The new management had difficulty with accessing cash from finance houses, but they had the Timber and corrupt contacts.
- by Kristi Pihl, August 23, 2014, Tri City Herald
Some of Green Power's Tri-City creditors have received the green light to foreclose on the troubled biofuel company's unfinished Pasco plant.
Franklin County Superior Court Judge Cameron Mitchell recently approved a request by the creditors to foreclose on the liens they hold against the company's personal property.
Mitchell also approved a priority order for the creditors. A company called Panda Holding, which requested the decision, is first and sixth on the priority list of those who have not been paid yet.
EXCLUSIVE: Wood dust plants prompt CANCER fears for resident families
They feel like prisoners in their homes, having to shut all windows to avoid breathing in tiny particles of silica, arsenic and asbestos, after suffering from nosebleeds, headaches, sore throats and asthma.
Research has shown "nano-toxins" found in dust from wood manufacturing and recycling, and car exhaust emissions of the smallest carbon particles, can cause cancer and dementia.
Poor health has been found among thousands of adults, children and pets living next to waste wood recycling and processing plants at Avonmouth docks near Bristol, Mossley and Horwich in Lancashire, Shoreham in West Sussex, Frodsham in Cheshire and Kirkby in Merseyside.
The companies involved have not broken the law and meet industry regulations enforced by councils and the Environment Agency [EA].
In a bid for tougher regulations, the six communities have compiled a Citizen's Science Investigation inspired by Erin Brockovich's pursuit of an energy company for contaminating the drinking water of a Californian town, which was made into a Hollywood film starring Julia Roberts.
Air monitoring analysis commissioned for the report was critical of EA tests at Mossley and Horwich, which were not carried out in the dry summer months when clouds of dust can be seen blowing over nearby homes.
They found dust gauges at Mossley were not placed in the direction of the prevailing wind and ruled the equipment used was not effective in testing the most harmful tiny particles of dust. Samples were not "chemically analysed".
Independent testing has shown dust samples contained harmful substances like arsenic and asbestos
Independent testing, also commissioned for the report, found dust samples contained harmful substances like arsenic, asbestos, cadmium, chromium, formaldehyde, lead, gypsum , silica and silica sand in worryingly high concentrations.
The report, published today [SUN], calls for waste wood to be stored in enclosed spaces to avoid dust becoming airborne, continuous monitoring at affected sites and for residents to be given the same protection from exposure in law as employees at wood processing plants.
Wood dust has been classed as a group one carcinogen by the World Health Organisation [WHO] since 1995, yet in the UK it is only seen as a "nuisance" to homes near recycling sites.
Research carried out by Donna Liley, secretary of Mossley Environmental Action Group, found that out of 72 families with homes backing on to a Plevin wood-processing plant in Mossley, eight people have suffered from cancer and five from Alzheimer's or dementia, which is much higher than the national incidence rate.
Resident Alan Carter, 72, who lives with wife Val, 65, has had two different types of cancer in the past decade, including male breast cancer, of which there are only about 300 cases a year in the UK.
Neighbour Bernadette Dolan, 48, who lives with husband Carl, daughter Ashley and sons Sean, Connor and Aiden, has had so many nosebleeds that she now has a hole in her septum. Her sons also suffer regular nosebleeds.
The report states: "Whilst health authorities acknowledge that 'mixed pollutants' are a problem and urgent research is required, they have failed to provide any peer reviewed evidence to substantiate their claims that there is no connection between waste wood emissions and the health issues reported by communities."
Dr Jill Meara, deputy director at Public Health England's Centre for Chemicals, Radiation and Environmental Hazards, said: "The main health problems associated with wood dust are linked to long term occupational exposure in workplaces.
"Levels of exposure in a domestic environment are likely to be much lower, but because most of the research and evidence is based on the health effects of occupational exposure, it is difficult to say what the risks are to residents without the results of air monitoring.
"PHE welcomes the recent decision by the EA to undertake some continuous air quality monitoring for a period of three months at one of these sites."
An Environment Agency spokeswoman said: "Wood recyclers must control dust emissions at their sites as set out in the strict terms of their permits. If they don't we take action ranging from improving controls on site to prosecuting."
A spokeswoman for Plevin, which also runs a wood recycling site in Elkesley, Nottinghamshire and is building a new £5million plant on a 50-site in Hazelhead, South Yorkshire, insisted all its sites "operate within the law".
- by Kevin Bundy, August 22, 2014, Center for Biological Diversity
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit today challenging a Clean Air Act permit issued by the Environmental Protection Agency for a massive, 31-megawatt biomass power plant proposed by Sierra Pacific Industries in Anderson, Calif. The challenge, filed directly in the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, charges the EPA with failing to control climate-warming carbon dioxide pollution from the plant.
“Tree-burning power plants foul the air, damage the climate, and threaten our forests,” said Kevin Bundy, a senior attorney with the Center’s Climate Law Institute. “For too long the EPA has acted as if carbon pollution from biomass doesn’t exist. But you can’t fool the atmosphere. Carbon from burning trees still warms the climate.”
- by Chris Jensen, August 21, 2014, New Hampshire Public Radio
A new biomass plant in Berlin is finally producing electricity for Public Service of New Hampshire under a controversial 20-year contract that a report says will cost PSNH ratepayers $125 million more than if the electricity was purchased on the open market...
That estimate came from the consulting firm of La Capra Associates which did the report for the state's Public Utilities Commission as part of a wide-ranging review of PSNH’s operations.
In a statement PSNH said the La Capra report isn’t a sure thing because its conclusions are “highly dependent on a number of issues that are uncertain and difficult to predict - the future price of gas, the retirement of other power plants, and new infrastructure development, among other things."
But La Capra’s conclusions are not unfamiliar to PSNH. The La Capra report echoes warnings the Public Utilities Commission staff and the state’s Office of Consumer Advocate made back in 2011. That’s when the three PUC commissioners considered testimony and dozens of documents as they were considering whether to approve the contract.