I know in this day and age that it is fashionable to criticize the role of government . But I hope we don’t need to be reminded that there us an appropriate role for our elected officials to protect the majority from the designs of the few who are rich and powerful. Ostensibly, we are no longer subject to the whims of kings and lords but have elected officials whose duty it is to watch out for the welfare of the common citizen; and not to simply do the bidding of those who would take our money and run.
The hearings were an opportunity for the average person to come and express his or her wishes and to plead a their case to their elected representatives, not to simply to listen only to the representatives who have spent much time already pleading their case. ANd the members of the Commission should not simply rubber stamp the proposals of those who would take the money and run as others have.
Commissioner Traylor had apparently already made up his mind, even before the application had been submitted. He stated at the first meeting that nothing had been presented to change his mind.
I pointed out at the second hearing how difficult it is to contest information in a application that hasn’t been submitted yet.
When I heard the glowing statements of BG&E at the first meeting I was indeed startled by what a wonderful Clean, Green project this will be! It seems to me the last time I heard such overwhelming support for an idea was when the US government & major media decided how wonderful it would be to invade Iraq because Sadaam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
Commissioner Traylor apparently had not heard anything of what had been presented at the first meeting to cast doubt on the wisdom of the proposed power plant.
He didn’t hear that the proposed ‘Green” project is not green.
He didn’t hear that the proposed “Clean” project was not clean.
He didn’t hear any of the presentation by Dr Ron Saff regarding the negative health effects due to particulate contamination in excess of that by a coal fired plant?
He didn’t hear that whatever the air quality application includes, does not include all facets of the operation, and does not address emission from the 50 – 60 trucks driving in and out of the plant daily.
He didn’t hear that there will be an impact on ground water quality from the 6-700,000 gallons of water needed per day for cooling.
He didn’t hear anything about the handling of ash in settling ponds.
He didn’t hear that the experience of those people from Tallahassee in dealings with BG&E were less than honest?
He didn’t hear that the subsidies currently in effect are a big reason for the push to get this done now and are one of the biggest facator in making a Biomass plant economically viable.He didn’t hear that the ozone levels in this area already merit an F grade or that the proposed plant will contribute to further air quality depletion?He didn’t hear any of that!
Here is some of what he apparently did hear:
The long term health effects of asthma & cancer on the children of Gulf County are apparently worth it in exchange for the economic impact of 24 long term jobs.
It is apparently more important to find a cure to cancer than it is to worry about the preventing the causes of cancer.
The impact of rising sea levels is not the concern of the County Commission as long as the people of Gulf County get their short term economic gain.
The presentations of BG&E representatives are more credible than the expressed opinions of the Tallahassee Commissioners who came to the opposite conclusions than those you obviously have already made before the hearings have even been concluded.
Biomass plants will likely not attract as many kooks as a nuclear plant therefore the biomass plant must be a better alternative.
Here is some additional information that you probably won’t hear about the proposed operation:
According to some studies that compare biomass to coal, CO2, No2, and particulate matter emissions will be 50 to 100% higher than coal. Sustainable doesn’t necessarily make it clean or green.
Cancer rates in Bay County are some of the worst in the United States, a biomass plant won’t do anything to improve that. Particulate emissions are NOT benign, particularly because of the accumulation of heavy metals and other carcinogens from the many years of emissions from the Arizona Chemical Plant, and the Paper mill. Over the years these harmful emissions have been absorbed by the trees and other vegetation growing in this area. When woodchips from these trees are burned these toxins will be released in the particulate emissions released by the plant. Burning biomass generated in this area will not be 100% clean.
You will not hear anything about the Environmental Protection Agency proposed Endangerment & Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act issued on Friday April 4 2009; which describes the harmful effects of greenhouse gases on the environment, because those have not been finalized yet.
But according to the EPA studies, while half of the CO2 emissions can be taken up by the oceans & terrestrial vegetation over the course of the next 30 years, another 30% will not be removed from the atmosphere for several centuries and the remaining 20 percent will only decay over many thousands of years.
According to the EPA, the heating effect caused by the human-induced build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere conveys a 90-99 percent probability the cause of the observed global warming over the past 50 years.
The effects of the groundwater contamination is not being addressed in the permitting process because the permitting addresses only air quality.
Even though no one single action can solve or rectify the problem of greenhouse gases and global warming, your actions, when coupled with a series of other actions can have an impact.
Some at the last meeting asked what other alternatives exist? Certainly conservation is one. Natural gas plants do not use foreign sources of energy and would be a cleaner alternative, even a coal fired plant would be cleaner burning. (If the county is looking for economic development, perhaps a nuclear waste storage facility to handle the waste from recently approved Levy Plant would generate more economic benefit for our children!)
The Green Party advocates use of alternative energies such as wind solar and geothermal. We would certainly encourage the development of green technologies. But sadly this biomass plant is not one of them. Gulf County is one of the most economically hard hit regions in the state. The biomass industry thinks this gives them permission to turn this beautiful area into a dumping ground, and most folks don’t have the resources to fight them.
As I recall someone mocked the idea of an 80 foot rise in sea level if global warming continues unabated. It reminded me of the story of Noah & the flood. It also reminded of the 15th verse of 2nd Chapter of Genesis: “Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and to keep it.”