Category Archives: forests

[FEATURE] Out of the Fryingpan and Into the Fire: Debate Heats Up Over Clear-cutting in White River National Forest

– by Josh Schlossberg, March 8, 2017, Boulder Weekly

Conservationists are challenging a logging proposal that would clear-cut 1,300 acres in the White River National Forest northeast of Aspen, including endangered Canada lynx habitat and units adjacent to the protected Woods Lake Roadless Area.

The Upper Fryingpan Vegetation Management Project covers 1,848 acres in the Aspen/Sopris Ranger District in Eagle and Pitkin Counties, Colorado, with the goal of providing lumber and biomass energy, increasing the diversity of tree age and size, and creating snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) habitat, the primary food source of the Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis).

However, a formal objection filed by Denver-based forest management analyst and consultant Rocky Smith, along with representatives from Rocky Mountain Wild, Rocky Mountain Recreation Initiative and a chapter of Great Old Broads for Wilderness, alleges the project would instead degrade habitat for lynx and other wildlife, disturb soils and watersheds, and impact scenery. Objectors say the U.S. Forest Service must draft an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to detail the project’s potential harm to ecosystems and offer alternatives that would shrink its footprint.

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[NEWS] Despite Advances, Costs Keep Wood Biocoal on Backburner

– by Frank Jossi, April 2, 2018, Energy News Network

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Photo: Energy News Network

At a research lab in the northwoods of Minnesota, scientists are roasting tree waste until it turns into something that looks and burns like coal — without the heavy metal pollution. The finished product is called “biocoal” or “torrefied biomass,” and a team of University of Minnesota-Duluth researchers hope it might someday displace coal to fuel power plants, reinvigorating the region’s forestry economy and reducing carbon emissions at the same time.

The work at the Natural Resources Research Institute lab, about 200 miles north of the Twin Cities, appears to be the latest technical advance for woody biomass. The team’s facility is able to produce as much as 6 tons per day of the biocoal, which has energy values similar to coal. It’s been successfully tested in a Milwaukee tourist train and a large, coal-fired power plant owned by Minnesota Power, the investor-owned utility in the area.

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[NEWS] Omnibus Draft: Biomass Energy “Carbon Neutral”

– by Dean Scott, March 21, 2018, Bloomberg

smokestack question markEmissions from forest biomass would continue to be treated as carbon-neutral and the EPA would be barred from regulating lead in bullets and fishing tackle under the draft omnibus spending bill, congressional aides told Bloomberg Environment.

Both the ammunition and forest biomass regulatory provisions would be retained from previous spending measures.

The biomass language would shield facilities that burn wood and other organic matter from greenhouse gas regulation. The forestry and paper industries have long sought to have biomass treated as carbon neutral, arguing that the decaying plant matter would eventually release its trapped greenhouse gas emissions.

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[NEWS] Northern Michigan University Explains Why Biomass Heating Facility Is Idle

– by Julie Williams, February 8, 2018, WLUC

Ripley_Julie-Williams

Photo: Julie Williams / WLUC

The Ripley plant at Northern Michigan University supplies steam to most of campus and plays a critical part in keeping Northern and its students comfortable.

“We provide all of the heat to all the buildings that don’t have their own boilers and it heats water, it heats air and also provides some steam for humidification,” said Gisele Duehring, Associate Director of Facilities.

Ripley expanded with a biomass plant in 2012 and 2013 that cost roughly 16 million dollars but right now it is not being used.

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[NEWS] Impact of Closing Minnesota Biomass Power Facility Revealed

– February 19, 2018, Bioenergy Insight

Benson-Power_Swift-County-Monitor

Photo: Swift County Monitor

A recently published study from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has revealed the economic impact of closing a biomass power plant in the state.

In spring 2017 the Minnesota state legislature passed a law allowing Xcel Energy to buy and then shutdown Benson Power, a 50mW biomass facility that uses a mixture of poultry litter and wood to generate electricity. When announcing the closure, the legislature also directed DEED to carry out a study on the economic impact, state-wide, of closing the facility.

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