Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Will subsidies go poof?
. . . .

Will subsidies go poof?

Anne Stanton - May 24th, 2010
Will Subsidies go Poof? EPA decision sends ‘chilling message’ to the biomass industry
By Anne Stanton
 An EPA final rule issued last week did not exempt biomass power from
greenhouse gas permitting requirements, sending a “chilling message” to
the biomass industry, the New York Times reported last week.
EPA’s final “tailoring” rule was issued last week and determined which
polluters will have to account for their greenhouse gas emissions next
January when the agency begins to formally regulate the heat-trapping
gases with the permitting process under the Clean Air Act, wrote New York
Times reporter Robin Bravender.
“What does this mean for biomass electricity plants?  It means they are no
longer exempt from regulating their carbon dioxide.  They can no longer
call themselves ‘green energy,’ or ‘carbon neutral,’” responded Elisa
Barrett, a conservation biologist and environmental scientist, who will
speak at the Traverse Area District Library on Monday, May 24, at 6:30
p.m. about biomass and carbon levels.
“It also exempts them from receiving funding as an alternative energy
source from the stimulus money of 2009.  Basically, the forward movement
of the biomass plants in Michigan are slowed and could likely be stopped
in its tracks.”

The issue is especially relevant in Northern Michigan, where there are
proposed projects to produce a total of 192 megawatts of biomass power,
including plans for new plants in Mancelona, Gaylord, and Traverse City,
according to Skip Pruss, director of Michigan’s Department of Energy. Each
megawatt of power requires new growth from 10,000 acres of forested land.
Carbon emissions from biomass plants are claimed as “carbon neutral,” yet
burning wood releases the same level of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere
as coal plants for the same amount of energy produced, according to an
October 23, 2009 Science article.
The growing abundance of carbon in the troposphere—the closest layer of
the atmosphere to Earth—is blamed for global warming, which scientists
warn could potentially cause catastrophic damage to the planet unless
significantly slowed or halted.
The decision to not exempt biomass was cheered by Barrett, who believes
the EPA decision last week could have implications for federal subsidies,
which provide 30% of biomass plant construction costs.
“When I heard stimulus money would be used for biomass, I was stunned. The
stimulus money was intended for alternative energy like solar and wind and
to upgrade the grid to make it more efficient so it can better utilize
these sources of power,” Barrett said.

Biomass is growing in popularity across the nation because subsidies make
it the cheapest alternative energy. Biomass can also provide baseload
energy (electricity that is available 24/7 on demand) unlike wind or solar
energy, which is intermittent. Revamping the national electrical grid is
considered a high priority because it’s the only way to accommodate wind
and solar sources of energy.
Barrett testified in 2003 before the EPA in Washington D.C., urging it to
regulate carbon under the auspices of the Clean Air Act.  In her
testimony, Barrett used air monitoring data to prove that catastrophic
human events, such as the March invasion of Iraq, caused carbon levels to
spike. In 2009, the EPA began regulating.
Supporters claim that biomass is carbon neutral, because a tree absorbs
the same amount of carbon as it releases when it’s burned. A big supporter
of biomass is the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO). Its website
explains the concept of carbon neutrality:
“The EPA and the Department of Energy, through their own data collection,
have long recognized that biomass combustion for energy does not increase
carbon in the atmosphere. The EPA has concluded that there is a
‘scientific consensus’ that ‘carbon dioxide emitted from burning biomass
will not increase CO2 in the air if it is done on a sustainable basis.’”
“The United States is a world leader in sustainable forest management. As
a result, our volume of growing trees has increased by nearly 50 percent
over the last 50 years and each year our nation stores more carbon in its
forests than it releases from them. That is why energy from forest biomass
does not increase carbon in the atmosphere.”
Meanwhile, NAOF has pressured the EPA to exclude biomass combustion from
the requirements, arguing that the process is “carbon neutral.”

“The question is, what is EPA going to do from here?” said David Tenny,
president and CEO of NAFO in the NYT article. “This sends a bit of a
chilling message to biomass producers.”
Yet an EPA report acknowledges it takes hundreds of years for the planet
to absorb carbon from burning wood. Emerging scientific articles assert
that burning existing forests for energy does not lower carbon levels.
“Replacing fossil fuels with bioenergy does not by itself reduce carbon
emissions because the carbon dioxide released by tailpipes and smokestacks
is roughly the same per unit of energy regardless of the source,”
according to the October 23, 2009 Science article.
“If unproductive land supports fast-growing grasses for bioenergy, or if
forestry improvements increase tree growth rates, the additional carbon
absorbed offsets emissions when burned for energy. However, harvesting
existing forests for electricity adds net carbon to the air. That remains
true even if limited harvest rates leave the carbon stocks of regrowing
forests unchanged, because those stocks would otherwise increase and
contribute to the terrestrial carbon sink.”

Marvin Roberson, a forest ecologist for the Michigan Sierra Club outside
of Marquette, said that standing timber is the only foreseeable resource
for biomass plants in Northern Michigan.
“I’ve seen exceptions. In Grayling, there’s a sawmill we do support that
makes dimension lumber, and they use their waste sawdust to produce energy
to power the plant. That’s great. There’s also a place in Grayling that
takes waste tires, which we don’t think is great, and logging residues.
But the only reasonable source for getting 192 megawatts of biomass power
is standing timber and that’s just a bad idea.”
The EPA indicated that it would continue to seek comment on biomass
emissions and issue guidance on how to best reduce carbon emissions with
biomass technology, the NYT article said.
Barrett,  founder of Earth Rescue, a nonprofit coalition of 250 scientists
and environmental leaders, said her talk on Monday will present scientific
evidence showing that trees are essential to maintaining a healthy
troposphere by sequestering carbon that’s exhaled by a growing human
population. When trees die, they emit little carbon; they decompose into
soil, habitat and sustenance for bottom feeders. Burning carbon-absorbing
trees will upset the atmospheric balance and cycle of nature, she said.
“As a point of order, the review of scientific literature completed in
2008 has proven invaluable and had clearly found a good definition that
limited biomass. Nowhere in the scientific literature was there an
inclusion of hardwoods or softwoods with the exception of poplar.  The
issue as it manifested in Michigan has put ‘use’ of biomass in direct
conflict with all research and scientific writing to date.  The scientific
community never envisioned the use of trees for other than carbon
sequestration.  With that reality, [EPA Chief] Lisa Jackson issued the
final decision regarding the ‘tailoring rule’ on controlling greenhouse
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