Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · Biomass a short-sighted...
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Biomass a short-sighted plan

Robert Downes - February 1st, 2010
Biomass a short-sighted plan
More than a century ago, our ancestors had a simple plan for dealing
with industrial waste: they simply flushed it into the river or let it
settle into the ground. Problem solved. What could be easier and
more sensible? No one had a clue at the time that there were
unintended consequences that would involve billions of dollars in
cleanup schemes within a few decades.
The same short-sighted thinking is at work in Northern Michigan today,
where Traverse City Light & Power is considering a plan to build three
woodchip-burning power plants which would each produce 10 megawatts of
electricity. The reasoning goes that we have plenty of trees here in
Northern Michigan, so what could be more simple and sensible than
burning them to power our hot tubs and electric lawn mowers?
Advocates of this plan claim that wise forest management principles
will be employed to insure that Northern Michigan’s forests aren’t
irreparably harmed. The “waste wood” of current timber-cutting
projects will serve as fuel.
Oh really? Are there really tens of thousands of tons of “waste wood”
piled up out there in the forest? Or is that a euphemism (like
“biomass“) for clear-cutting trees? Consumers Power is planning to
build a biomass plant in Bay City that will consume 100,000 tons of
wood chips per year. Wonder where they‘ll get all that wood,
considering the Saginaw River Valley was logged off 100 years ago?
The problem for Northern Michigan is cumulative. With new biomass
plants being considered for Mancelona, Rogers City, Bay City and
Marquette, not to mention the current power plant in Cadillac which
also burns woodchips, at what point do we destroy the natural beauty
and resources of our region for all time?
Jeff Gibbs, a documentary filmmaker who has been studying the human
impact on our forests for the past decade and is an opponent of
biomass, is circulating photos of clear-cuts in the U.P., where
residents are trading their natural heritage and the beauty of the
region for a handful of jobs. Apparently, the trees that brought
poetry to the hearts of John Muir, J.R.R. Tolkien and Joyce Kilmer are
just “waste wood” up that way.
Gibbs and other opponents dispute the idea that burning trees is a
long-term solution for Michigan’s energy needs. “All the trees in
Michigan wouldn’t power our great state for a single year,” he notes.
“Biomass burning is a dead end even if you were willing to pollute
and put out more CO2 than coal, oil and natural gas. Why do we have
it?”
Good question. The whole idea of burning trees for electricity as a
“renewable resource” has the stability of a compound fracture. At the
recent climate conference in Copenhagen, delegates agreed that the
developed world should be paying Third World countries to save their
forests from the axe and the saw. It was universally agreed that we
should be planting trees, not cutting them down.
Yes, forests are a “renewable” resource for a generation or two -- but
after that they run sterile and thin for lack of natural regeneration.
Forests are like any crop -- they need fertilizer in the form of
dead, decomposing trees returning their nutrients to the soil.
Consider this: our forests, lakes, rivers and beaches are the life
raft that keeps Northern Michigan’s tourist economy afloat.
Yet if we know anything at all about human nature, it’s that once you
let something like this out of the bag, there never seems to be a
“Stop” button. You want drab, dreary scenery? This is the way forward
as one biomass plant on top of another scrambles for a dwindling
resource.
Do we want the end of wildlife corridors and our recreation-based
industry that encourages snowmobilers, hunters, fishermen and the
‘silent sports’ of kayaking, hiking and cross-country skiing? Then
take a drive from Detroit to Chicago on I-94 to see what the future
holds. Once, this ugly stretch of southern Michigan was a vast forest
where it was said that a squirrel could travel from Lake Michigan to
Lake Erie without touching the ground. That would seem to be the
fate of Northern Michigan’s forests once competing power plants start
rendering our forests into “biomass.”
A better model for TCL&P would be the Stoney Corners Wind Project
which just went fully operational in Missaukee County. This wind farm
of nine turbines is generating 19,000 megawatts of renewable energy
without adding any carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. It‘s a project
that every citizen of Missaukee County can point to with pride.
We certainly have some high hills around Traverse City, and one can
only imagine there are some cash-strapped farmers in the area willing
to harvest the wind. What we need is a renewable energy plan that
offers a sense of pride and progress for TCL&P‘s customers, not the
destruction of our natural resources and tourist economy.

 
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