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It’s time to get the biomass industry going in Oregon
August 29, 2011
The recent lawsuit filed against the EPA by a group of conservation groups, including the Southern Environmental Law Center, highlights one of the problems with current U.S. environmental law.
In 2010 the EPA proposed strict emission standards that would have treated biomass plants the same as coal powered plants. After pressure from Congress, the EPA backed off on their standards, allowing biomass plants to have a different emission standard.
Rather than accept the new ruling, environmental groups sued.
The problem is that while they are arguing about air quality, the Western United States is burning to the ground. Arizona and New Mexico had one of the largest fires in U.S. history earlier this year. Currently, much of Central Oregon is on fire. Several large fires burn on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. Additional large fires burn near Maupin and Clarno, while several other fires burn out of Control in Central Oregon.
On Sunday, Bend was under a health advisory for unsafe air quality conditions and anyone who drove through either Warm Springs or Madras saw even worse air quality.
Biomass has the potential to create jobs and inexpensive power, while at the same time protecting local forests from catastrophic wildfires. Since environmental law has already largely ended the Central Oregon logging industry, Biomass is the only forest thinning and protection method that remains which can also generate jobs. Biomass may not be the only answer, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.
The emissions from several biomass plants wouldn’t even come close to causing the air-quality problems that Central Oregon is currently dealing with.
We appreciate that environmentalists wish to protect our air quality. However, some common sense needs to be used. As long as we fail to protect our forest and range lands, we will continue to have large wildfires. Those fires not only pollute the air, but destroy the very forests that environmentalists claim to want to save. It is time that government officials and regulators start making decisions based on common sense and not on knee-jerk reactions to environmental groups, and it is time for all of us to stand up to the environmental extremists and say enough is enough.
All of us want clean air, clean water, and pristine forests. Right now we are in danger of losing all three, not because of bad business practices, but because of well-meaning environmentalists who are harming the very environment that they claim they want to save.