Thursday, November 27, 2014

[biofuelwatch] Farmer Protests Spread throughout Paraguay

Farmer Protests Spread throughout Paraguay
TeleSUR. November 22, 2014

Small farmers demands relief from debts incurred due to bad harvests and hydroelectric runoff.
More than 2,000 farmers in Paraguay's northern region, who have been constructing road blockades for two weeks now, have decided to expand their protests throughout the rest of the country starting Monday.

During the meeting that took place in the San Pedro district, farmers announced that they will continue demonstrating to demand that their debts be absolved. Farmers say their debts are the result of losses from bad harvests, climate change, water overflows linked to hydroelectric dam operations in rural areas, as well as market closures.

In addition, the farmers will continue their appeal to create an government agency to support family agriculture, which they say is being overrun by mechanized farming and soy production. The small producers are also demanding help in filing legal claims to prevent their homes and lands from being repossessed.

The strikes come in the midst of ongoing revelations about collusion between the administration of Horacio Cartes and drug cartels. Legislator Arnaldo Giuzzio, a former narcotics enforcement prosecutor, exposed links between three  legislators from the ruling Colorado Party with drug traffickers during a plenary session of the National Assembly on Thursday.

Saturday's meeting was attended by Paraguay's former president and senator Fernando Lugo, as well as representatives of the Liberal Party Víctor Ríos and Salustiano Salinas, along with council members form the Caaguazú, Canindeyú and San Pedro provinces.


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[biofuelwatch] Brazil soy moratorium extended to protect Amazon forest

Brazil soy moratorium extended to protect Amazon forest
Reuters. November 26, 2014

Nov 25 (Reuters) - Brazil extended on Tuesday a moratorium on buying soy grown in illegally cleared land in the Amazon rainforest as the government tries to protect the region, Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said.

Satellite imagery presented by Teixeira showed the area of soy grown on illegally deforested land grew 61 percent to 47,028 hectares in 2013/2014 from the previous harvest.

"There was pressure from high commodity prices that led some growers to plant soy in illegally deforested areas," Teixeira said after signing the moratorium, which runs through May 2016, with a group of Brazil's largest soy exporting and processing firms.

Environmentalists are worried that new soy export pipelines through river ports in the Amazon will add to pressure and further increase deforestation, which accelerated last year for the first time since 2005.

Despite the increase in sown area, industry advocates say the area sown for soy represents just 1.1 percent of total area deforested in the three Amazon states where soy is grown - Mato Grosso, Para and Rondonia - since the moratorium took effect in 2006.

"Clearly, soy is not a driver behind Amazon deforestation," said Carlo Lovatelli, president the Brazilian vegetable oil industry group Abiove, whose members buy 80 percent of Brazil's soy output.

As the agricultural frontier expands in Brazil's Amazon region, mainly in the Mato Grosso state, experts say cattle ranching that feeds Brazil's huge meat industry is still the main cause of deforestation and the burning of trees to open grazing pastures.

In September, Brazil's national space agency, which tracks deforestation via satellite imagery, said deforestation in the measurement year ending July 2013 spiked by 29 percent from a year earlier.

Scientists and rainforest activists have accused President Dilma Rousseff's government of turning a blind eye to renewed abuses by loggers, ranchers and other developers in the region.

The government changed forestry laws, moved ahead with big infrastructure projects in the region and eased rules that protected land long set aside for conservation, they say.

Paulo Adario, senior forest adviser for the environmental group Greenpeace, said the extension of the soy moratorium will help "avoid adding fuel to the bonfire of deforestation in the Earth's largest tropical forest."


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Sunday, November 23, 2014

[biofuelwatch] Fwd: US E.P.A. Postpones Standards for Biofuel Blends [1 Attachment]

From the NY Times:

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The Environmental Protection Agency quietly announced on Friday that, after much delay, it had been unable to decide this year on a rule setting levels for the amount of biofuel it would require to be blended into conventional vehicle fuels.

Because of the delay, a spokeswoman said in a statement, the agency will not take up the rule, known as the Renewable Fuel Standard, until next year, when it seeks to set levels for 2015 and 2016.

notice posted on the E.P.A. website said that the agency's proposal, released last year, to reduce biofuel targets had "generated significant comment and controversy," especially over how the biofuel targets should be set and whether it would be effective in, "achieving the volumes of renewable fuel targeted by the statute." Given continued consideration of those issues, the notice said, the agency would not reach a decision this year.

The notice also said the agency would adjust reporting requirements so refiners could comply retroactively.

The decision not to decide is the latest setback in a long line of economic,legal and logistical hurdles the agency has faced since it started requiring increasing levels of ethanol to be incorporated into vehicle fuel under energy laws passed in 2005 and 2007. Much has changed since then, when American dependence on foreign oil was high, and so were prices.

Now, however, the country is awash in domestic oil from shale drilling, while more efficient cars and an anemic economy have cut demand. The market is saturated with regular corn ethanol, while production of cellulosic, or so-called advanced, biofuel — made from nonfood parts of corn plants or other biomass like wood waste — has fallen short of what the mandate requires refiners to use.

"A lot of the motivation for biofuels is gone," said Michael E. Webber, deputy director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin. "I think this delay is not just a stall tactic. I think the E.P.A. really doesn't know what to do. They need to kind of give it another year to figure out, 'Well does this biofuels policy make sense anymore?'"

On Friday, supporters and opponents of increased biofuel production expressed a rare consensus that the E.P.A.'s move was a punt and that the rule needed to be fixed, whether they were in favor of revision or repeal.

Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association, a trade group, said, "We're still in suspended animation, and the uncertainty is just kicked down the road."

Jeff Lautt, the chief executive of Poet, a corn ethanol producer that recently opened a cellulosic plant, said through a spokesman that the company was "pleased the administration did not finalize the flawed proposed rule" but was unsure if officials would avoid provisions that could stifle advanced biofuel development going forward.

Others said that this latest wrinkle was a clear signal that Congress should revisit the law.

"It's not a good signal that they can't get this done," said Mike Lavender, a policy analyst at the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization that is in favor of biofuels but is critical of corn ethanol. "The only real option at this point is in 2015 for Congress to take up the reins and take a serious look at reform."

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

[biofuelwatch] EPA Proposes Final Guidance for Counting Carbon Emissions from Wood-burning Power Plants: Admits They Degrade Climate, Then Ignores Science

EPA Proposes Final Guidance for Counting Carbon Emissions from Wood-burning Power Plants: Admits They Degrade Climate, Then Ignores Science

Published November 19, 2014

Statement on EPA's carbon accounting framework by Mary Booth, Director, PFPI


November 19, 2014.  Pelham, MA.

Today EPA released a revised draft framework for counting greenhouse gas emissions from biomass energy.  While power plants that burn wood and other biological materials instead of fossil fuels actually emit more CO2 than coal-fired plants on a day-to-day basis, treatment of biomass energy as renewable energy has been based on the idea that these CO2 emissions can be ignored as not contributing to climate change.  No more.  EPA's proposed framework clearly acknowledges biomass energy emits greenhouse gases, and that accounting for bioenergy emissions requires assessing all the impacts that biomass harvesting can have on ecosystems, including the length of time it takes to grow back trees that have been harvested for fuel.  As the framework admits, biomass power plants can act as net sources of CO2 to the atmosphere for decades, increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and driving climate change.


Unfortunately, a memo accompanying the accounting framework from EPA's Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Janet McCabe demonstrates that EPA has decided to ignore the science-based approach attempted in the framework, proposing to exempt whole classes of biomass fuels from regulation despite the agency's own analysis that such fuels can be large sources of CO2.  The memo indicates that "waste-derived" biomass and certain forest-derived "industrial products" will likely be exempted from regulation, and possibly "sustainably harvested" forest wood, as well.


While certain biomass materials, such as wastes from the pulp and paper industry, are less likely to increase emissions when burned for fuel, there is no basis for assuming "sustainably" harvested forest materials have zero carbon emissions.  Indeed, "sustainably" harvested forests are being cut and burned around the planet, moving millions of tons of carbon from trees into the atmosphere each year.


EPA is asking the country to back the Clean Power Plan as a way to reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector, but Administrator McCabe's directive overriding the framework proposed by EPA's own scientists promotes biomass energy that will make emissions worse.  By EPA's own accounting, biomass power plants emitted about 78 million tons of CO2 in 2012, equivalent to the entire power sector emissions of 13 states and Washington DC (VT, DC, ID,  SD, RI, ME, NH, AK, DE, WA, OR, HI, CT, MA) as reported by the Energy Information Administration.  There's little doubt that the vast majority of the biomass plants responsible for these massive emissions would claim they're just burning waste products, or "sustainably harvested" forest wood, the categories Administrator McCabe has proposed to exempt from regulation.  Many Americans understand the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and want EPA's Clean Power Plan to succeed.  EPA should not promote burning of forest wood, which not only emits more CO2 than coal at the stack but reduces carbon storage in forests, as a means of "reducing" power sector emissions, because to do so will increase emissions, invisibly, at great cost.


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Monday, November 17, 2014

[biofuelwatch] More Wood to be Burned for Energy in 2015

More Wood to be Burned for Energy in 2015

- by Erin Voegele, November 14, 2014, Biomass Magazine

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has released the November issue of its Short-Term Energy Outlook, which includes updated forecasts for the use of wood and biomass fuels in U.S. heat and power production...

--   Josh Schlossberg  Editor, The Biomass Monitor  Editor, Energy Justice Now  


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[biofuelwatch] Papua-Wide meeting calls for 10 year Moratorium on Plantation and Forestry Industries

Papua-Wide meeting calls for 10 year Moratorium on Plantation and Forestry Industries

Between 4th-7th November 2014, representatives of indigenous communities, environmentalists and human rights defenders from every corner of West Papua met in Jayapura to discuss problems linked to the forestry and large-scale plantation industries, which in recent years have been expanding rapidly throughout the island. This was an important meeting, as the difficulties and expense of travel around Papua means that communities are frequently isolated to face the companies alone, even though the problems they face are remarkably similar. With many more plantation companies set to start operations within the next few years, and timber companies still keen to harvest high-value logs, it is also vital to share the (often bitter) experiences of communities which have already seen how these industries operate, and also to formulate some common platform of demands with which to confront government and policy makers.

Participants at the event heard about the long-term injustices connected with plantations in Jayapura, Keerom and Boven Digoel, where land was taken with military backing during the Suharto dictatorship causing problems which are still not resolved. In Papua's deep south, participants told of how they have been marginalised by plantations connected to the MIFEE agribusiness development. Others from Sorong, Nabire and Mimika, told of how they were unprepared for the problems which started unfolding as the companies moved in. Delegates from Bintuni and Wondama Bays explained how the effects of the timber industry on communities are no less destructive.

In many of these cases, the same problems could be seen to emerge time and time again: intimidation from military and police officers supporting the companies, loss of livelihood as the forest is destroyed, companies' broken promises to bring development to communities, environmental problems such as pollution, flooding and loss of water sources. Taking all this into account, the participants agreed to call on all agencies involved in allowing these industries to address these problems.

Top of the list was a call for a 10 year moratorium into for large-scale plantation and forestry investment, during which time part violations should be resolved, and the challenge of finding a way that these industries could exist on indigenous land without disadvantaging indigenous people. Hopefully we will translate some of the testimony on this site soon, in the meantime here is the full list of recommendations:

Organisations involved in organising the event were: Yaysan Pusaka, Greenpeace Papua, SKP Jayapura, Jerat Papua, Foker LSM Papua and Jasoil Papua. A copy of this declaration in Indonesian together with a list of participants can be found at:


Meeting of Community Victims of the Forestry and Large-scale Plantation Industries.

Dialogue on Building a Green Economy and Sustainable Development

Today, Friday the seventh of November two thousand and fourteen, in the Maranatha Convent, Waena, Jayapura,

After hearing and discussing Reports of Victims of the Forestry and Large-scale Plantation Industries from throughout the land of Papua, and also discussing various developments in development policy, we as representatives of indigenous communities from twelve Regencies or cities throughout the land of Papua, want to hereby make clear that the state has violated and ignored our human rights, by not protecting, respecting and advancing the rights of indigenous communities throughout the land of Papua, including: acts of discrimination, repression and expropriation of what rightfully belongs to indigenous people throughout Papua. These human rights violations, which have occurred between 1982 and 2014, have caused great loss for indigenous people, as their social and cultural fabric and their natural environment disappear. Because of this, we as representatives of indigenous people who have suffered because of the forestry and large-scale plantation industries, coming from twelve regencies and cities, hereby state the following:

1. To the President of the Republic of Indonesia, to issue a ten-year moratorium on forestry and large-scale plantation development throughout the land of Papua. During the moratorium period, the government would resolve the different problems and violations of indigenous communities' rights that have already occurred, and amend policies and legislation currently in force in the land of Papua.

2. To the Governors of Papua and West Papua Provinces, to reconsider all policies concerning the granting of permits for the forestry and large-scale plantation industries which disadvantage indigenous people across the land of Papua.

To the Commander of Military District XVII Cenderawasih Command and the Papuan Police Chief, to discipline and take action against any members of the military and police forces who openly participate in pressurising and intimidating indigenous people that wish to defend their rights throughout the land of Papua. Also to take action against members of the forces who are either directly engaged in illegal business involving forest products, or back-up and protect others in such businessses.

4. To Bupatis and city mayors throughout the land of Papua, to end the practice of unconditionally giving out permits and recommendations in the forestry and large-scale plantation sector.

To the honourable members of the Papuan and West Papua People's Assemblies (MRP), to hold a Special Dialogue with the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, and the Environment and Forestry Ministry, concerning making changes in policy and regulations related to forestry and large-scale plantation investment in the land of Papua, both ongoing and in the future, which would be based on indigenous peoples' rights and the spirit of Papuan Special Autonomy.

To the Provincial Legislative Councils in Papua and West Papua, to form a Special Committee to conduct investigations into the violations of indigenous communities' human rights in the land of Papua, which are a result of policies and investment activities in the forestry and large-scale plantation sector.

To Customary Tribal Councils throughout the land of Papua, to organise reconciliation and customary assemblies in each area to map the customary lands of each tribe/ethnic group and follow up the findings of this Meeting of Community Victims of the Forestry and Large-scale Plantation Industries.

8, to take an active role in reporting violations in human rights and environmental problems so they can be brought to the attention of wider society and institutions that are actively attempting to protect, respect and advance human rights at the Papuan, national and international levels.

9. Participants of the Meeting of Community Victims of the Forestry and Large-scale Plantation Industries – Dialogue on Building a Green Economy and Sustainable Development hereby declare the foundation of the Indigenous People's Environmental Council in the Land of Papua (Dewan Lingkungan Masyarakat Adat di Tanah Papua).

These are the recommendations which have been made and agreed together, and we hope they will be heeded and implemented. May our ancestors and the Creator be with us all.


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Friday, November 14, 2014

[biofuelwatch] Boulder Weekly: Wildfire Prevention or Forest Destruction? Mountain communities question Forest Service clear cutting

Please check out my latest article in the Boulder Weekly: "Wildfire Prevention or Forest Destruction? Mountain communities question Forest Service clear cutting." One of the logging projects I cover is sourcing a biomass facility in Gypsum, CO.

This article is a bit different from the advocacy journalism I've been doing. If you like it, please consider sharing the link via email lists, FB or Twitter, commenting on the Boulder Weekly website, or submitting a letter to the editor.



Wildfire prevention or forest destruction?
Mountain communities question forest service clearcutting

- By Josh Schlossberg, November 13, 2014, Boulder Weekly
Drive along Highway 119 south of Nederland or Highway 9 south of Frisco and you'll see large swaths of bare soil and scattered slash — including entire hillsides — where once there was forest. These aren't future subdivisions, but the Arapaho and White River National Forests.

The U.S. Forest Service is undertaking logging with the goal of keeping communities and the forest safe from wildfire. The project is funded by taxpayers to the tune of $1,200 per acre. But some locals, upset about the changes to the forest they know and love, are questioning if logging can really protect their homes and whether wildfire is as much of a threat to the forest as they're being told...


--   Josh Schlossberg  Editor, The Biomass Monitor  Editor, Energy Justice Now  


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Thursday, November 13, 2014

[Biofuelwatch] Save Our Southern Forests day of action: Tell your MP to support the campaign to end subsidies for big biomass!

Save Our Southern Forests day of action: Tell your MP to support the campaign to end subsidies for big biomass!

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Support the "Save Our Southern Forests" day of action: write to your MP

Take part here!

Conservation organisations in the US are holding a "Save Our Southern Forests" day of action today. Thousands of people will be sending an SOS to EU policy-makers, urging them to take action to stop the destruction of the world's most biodiverse temperate forests.

Right now, wood from clearcut wetland forests is being turned into pellets to supply UK power stations such as Drax with wood for electricity generation. Our demand for this dirty fuel is causing forest destruction in the southern US - let's stand in solidarity with campaigners demanding action there, and demand the same from our policy-makers.

Please take part in our online action by sending an email to your MP, asking them to ensure that no more support is given to big biomass power stations in the UK!

If you haven't already done so, please help us reach 2000 emails in our Green Investment Bank alert, by taking part here.

The Green Investment Bank highlighted its continued commitment to funding big biomass and waste incineration projects when it agreed to providing millions to two new destructive plants in the West Midlands and North Yorkshire last week. 

But we're determined to stop them getting involved in MGT Power's huge new biomass plant on Teesside. GIB finance could be make or break for the project - please join us in telling the bank to steer well clear of MGT Power!

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