Home > Uncategorized > BPU “Biomass” Boondoggles – Zombie Garbage Incineration

BPU “Biomass” Boondoggles – Zombie Garbage Incineration

Taxpayer Subsidies for High Cost Gasification and Burning Forests

Source: AgriPower Inc."Waste To Energy" presentation to BPU (2/29/12)

Tom Johnson wrote a piece today on BPU’s “Biomass” initiative, see: BPU Wants to Get Into Garbage in a Big Way

Having spent many years – both as a DEP staffer and later in the environmental community – fighting various boondoggle incineration technologies, I heard echoes of the 1980’s in some of the “biomass” described in Tom’s story.

Frankly, I thought we won those debates during the Florio Administration, when capital intensive, high cost, and highly polluting incineration was discourage and classified as “a technology of last resort” in the State Solid Waste Management Plan.

Instead of disposal technologies, the priority was source reduction – reduce the amount of waste and materials used – and reuse. After those options were exhausted, then recycle and compost what was left. Dispose of a small fraction of residuals left over. That was the policy hierarchy.

It seems that Florio policy is only made stronger by climate change, and the imperative to reduce GHG emissions.

But, that was 20 years ago – and the vendors of crazy never give up, and simply repackage technological boondoggles with new marketing slogans like “biomass”, “sustainable fuel”, and “renewable energy” (given the same subsidies as solar and wind).

Paralleling the current BPU biomass initiative, the DEP forestry people support forest biomass as a fuel source, something they absurdly consider a greenhouse gas strategy:

As DEP forestry recommends:

The following information was provided by the NJ Forest Service regarding forestry and CO2:

  • There are 3 basic ways to reduce atmospheric CO2 through forestry: increase the amount of carbon stored on land and in soil; use harvested wood for durable products; and substitute biomass for fossil fuels.  (@ p. 73)

All this raises the specter that the “forest stewardship” initiative will include renewable energy subsidies from BPU “biomass”, thus promoting the cutting our forests as a source of “biomass” fuel (see: Will NJ Forests Bend Over for Biomass?).

Source: AgriPower

On top of all that, a bill sponsored by Assembly Chairman Chivikula would provided Class I renewable energy subsidies to biomass (see:  Assembly Committee Redefines Renewable Energy – Bill would extend ratepayer subsidies to some technologies based on fossil fuels).

So, I hit a few links to the BPU Biomass program, and sure enough, a bunch of BPU “stakeholders” (no environmental or public interest representatives in the room) – along with DEP – are quietly developing regulations (i.e. “biomass sustainability” determination and “state of the art” air pollution controls) to promote garbage incineration, garbage “gasification”, and various “biomass” combustion technologies and fuel sources that include forests.

This is really disturbing, particularly considering that the man heading up the BPU initiative, my former colleague Mike Winka, actually took a strong stand in regulating incineration projects in the 1980’s while at DEP. Mike’s integrity was rewarded by DEP management by basically taking his job away and installing a yes man in his place.

So, Winka gets it, which makes the current effort to revive these incineration boondoggles all the more troubling.

Just take a look at this “waste to energy” presentation – it’s basically modular garbage incineration and explicitly mentions “unsorted, unprocessed municipal and industrial solid waste”.

Even if you didn’t care about environmental aspects, note that the technology proposes to produce gas from garbage. With the dirt cheap price of natural gas right now, that high cost gasification technology can not be economically feasible, so why are BPU and DEP even considering providing subsidies and developing regulations to promote it?

BPU and DEP would take us backwards 30 years, call it renewable biomass and give it taxpayer renewable energy subsides – just like solar and wind get. ABSURD.

But it gets worse –

Check out this “Agripower Inc.” presentation – they present mobile incineration units to go to the fuel source, including our forests! Well timed for implementation of the “Forest Stewardship” bill – oh but all that is just a coincidence, right?

Please, please wake me up and tell me I’m just in a 1980’s nightmare, right?

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