January 27, 2023

Responding to a Candidate on Traverse City Biomass Resistance

This morning I received an email message from Tom Mair, a Green Party candidate for the Grand Traverse (Michigan) Board of Commissioners, who wanted to know what I thought about the decision in June by Traverse City Light and Power to abandon its proposal to build a wood biomass plant. I served as communications and engagement consultant on the public hearings the utility held this winter. Tom’s message and my response follow: good afternoon Keith, …

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Wind Chill: Young and Old Greens At Odds Over Clean Energy Projects

Gabrielle Gurley, a writer for Commonwealth, the magazine of the think tank MassINC, has a rigorously balanced assessment in the most recent issue of the simmering dispute in American environmentalism about big clean energy projects. All across the country, including Massachusetts, where Gurley bases her reporting, grassroots environmentalists are fighting to block clean energy installations. In the battle between principle and pragmatism, the efforts by older green activists is producing a generational schism in the …

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Massachusetts Biomass Study Finds Caution and Some Optimism in Wood as Renewable Fuel

After six months of evaluation, a Massachusetts research center said yesterday that the greenhouse gas-reducing benefits of replacing coal and natural gas with wood biomass for electrical generation are lower than previously thought. But the study by the Manomet Center for Conservation Science also found that specific wood biomass technologies, particularly state-of-the art wood biomass plants that generate combined heat and power, produce less than half of the CO2 emissions generated by a coal-fired power …

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Grassroots Resistance to Clean Energy Projects, A Colorado Example

Kirk Johnson of the New York Times this morning published a interesting piece on how solar energy development in Colorado is being impeded by local resistance to new transmission lines. The many examples of how community or landowner or other resistance to clean energy projects has been well covered here on ModeShift. The trend represents another authentic risk to the nation’s ability to make a transition to a low carbon economy. There are oil companies …

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Principle Trumps Pragmatism: Grassroots Greens Campaign Against Clean Energy, American Power Act

As the expanse of the Gulf slick widened this week and climate advocates reckoned with an American public focused on more urgent risks closer to their front doors, 15 big activist organizations and a coalition of 200 grassroots advocacy groups from across the country, many of them green, lashed the American Power Act. Greenpeace last Thursday called the measure “more of a ‘dirty energy bailout’ bill than anything else.” In a statement issued a day …

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All Eyes To The Future: The American Power Act’s Imperiled Pragmatism

Over 70 years ago, in the General Motors-sponsored Futurama exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, an estimated 10 percent of all Americans were transported across a landscape of innovation, creativity, and optimism that became the economic and cultural foundation of the great American century. The Futurama exhibit was a huge diorama of a highway-heavy, congestion-free, car-dependent, time-efficient, leafy green urban and suburban all American pattern of civilization that no one had ever seen …

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As Gulf Slick Spreads Environmental Movement Takes Unexpected Heat

Paul Krugman, the Nobel Laureate economist,  Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for The New York Times, and friend of most things green wrote a piece over the weekend that should give environmentalists heartache. In a column about the big Gulf oil spill, Krugman described how the environmental movement has been steadily losing political momentum because it’s been so successful in scrubbing the skies and clearing the waters of the visible hazards of pollution. He also lays …

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Climate-Denying US Chamber Has A Point When It Comes to Grassroots Resistance to Clean Energy

The US Chamber of Commerce and many of its state-based affiliates, including the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, are nests of ideological movement conservatives devoted to all manner of influential key words that have shaped how states and Washington view their duties to mother nature. The Chamber has promoted such concepts as “free-market environmentalism” — which means allowing market trends to strip the earth — and “sound science,” which is a euphemism for ignoring science-based fact …

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When It Comes to Climate and Clean Energy, “Just Say No” Has Become Too Popular

Monday, in the parlance of Washington policy and journalism, was scheduled to be a potential day of breakthrough in the work to achieve action on the warming climate. Senators John Kerry (Mass.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (Conn.) had announced that they’d come to consensus on what a bipartisan energy and climate policy fit for the 21st century looked like. The results were to be unveiled at a news briefing that had global import. …

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Biomass Gets Traverse City Go Ahead

Just in time for Earth Day’s 40th celebration, the Traverse City Light and Power board voted last night to proceed with more due diligence — analysis, fuel studies, engineering designs, zoning decisions, many other data points — to acquire 10 mw of renewable energy with a state-of-the-art clean renewable wood biomass plant. Congratulations to the staff and board for making a tough and courageous decision. And thank you to Skip Pruss, director of the state …

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