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EPA debate over "carbon neutral" status of biomass

Post in 'The Green Room' started by heaterman, Aug 6, 2010.

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  1. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    I heard the other day from a reliable source that the EPA is formulating new standards that would basically make using cordwood nearly impossible with any present technology. They are far tighter than the Phase II regs. Basically, the only thing that would be able to meet it would be a chip feed or pellet boiler that has a scrubber system integral to it. Current technology, even that which originates in Eurpo and has a minimum of around 2MM btu's is not in the ballpark.
    This is absolute nonsense and it makes me mad on so many fronts I hardly know where to start.

    I'm wondering if anyone else in the wood burning industry has heard of these new regs.

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  2. rkusek

    rkusek Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like more of an attempt to take away the freedom of being independent from the big hand of government than anything else. Absolutely no reason for that type of technology for the homeowner that burns wood. I believe they are positioning themselves to discourage wood burning when they put the Cap & Trade stuff in effect. When they double the price of electricity, natural gas, heating oil, etc. for revenue purposes they don't want everyone fleeing to wood burning, even if its responsible clean gassifier technology. One more example that it has nothing to do with the environment just the money. The same people will be traveling all over the country in chartered jets at 50-100 grand a pop on the taxpayers dime preaching their garbage, wasting a ton of fuel, and producing even more pollution.
  3. boilermanjr

    boilermanjr Member

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    You may be confusing the residential New Source Performance Standard (NSPS) with the commercial/industrial/institutional boiler rule that has been proposed (commonly called Boiler MACT). The boiler MACT as proposed will make it almost impossible for wood boilers to be used in new and existing commercial/industrial/institutional installations- .03lbs/MM Btu Particulate and 100 PPM Carbon Monoxide (new boilers), 160 PPM CO (existing boilers). Even for chip, pellet, and other solid biomass boilers what EPA has proposed is practically speaking, unattainable. BTEC has drafted comments about the proposed boiler MACT that can be found here: http://www.biomassthermal.org/legislative/mact.asp.

    As for the residential NSPS, it is not exactly clear what EPA will do next. The most recent number that I have heard from Gil Wood at EPA is a target of .15 lbs/MM Btu particulate emissions within the next few years. Until a test method is confirmed along with the proposed target emissions rate, it is difficult to know what impact .15 lbs/MM Btu might have. There are wood burning boilers that can meet this emissions level if tested within the burn rates that the appliances are designed to work within.

    A Heating The Northeast With Renewable Biomass working group along with BTEC are spending a significant amount of time drafting sign on letters for those interested in contacting their state congressional delegates, governor's offices, beaurocrats, and other interested parties about the boiler MACT. The sign on letters should be complete by today. Please contact Kyle Gibeault at BTEC: kyle.gibeault@biomassthermal.org to provide him with your contact information if you would like to speak up about what EPA has proposed. All comments need to be received at EPA by August 23rd.
  4. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    From a purely selfish point of view, I'd be glad to see less of the wood chip plants going up in my area. It used to be a truck full of logs was available to the homeowner for under $1,000. Now that's not possible when a driver doesn't have to deal with residential homeowners. I remember 2008 cordwood was fetching over $400/cord. I'd rather they sold me the wood so I could burn it in my stove than sell it to a power plant that will in turn sell it back to me. I get 70% efficiency with no transmition losses, no service account charges, delivery charge, stranded investment charges, line maint or renewable engergy taxes. I think I'm the better deal for the enviroment.
  5. Piker

    Piker Minister of Fire

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    Warning!!! STRONG OPINION!!!

    Having attended several seminars this year on biomass as an energy source, I can tell you that the main focus of the academic community is on large scale power generation. Very little attention is given to the needs or desires of the individual with regard to efficient use of small residential systems. For some reason, the smartest people in the room think that more government regulation and bureaucratic control always results in a net gain of some sort. Maybe it's because they don't think individuals can think for themselves... maybe it's because some individuals can't think for themselves... probably a little of both I guess. The problem is that most regulations aren't always driven by the things we think or at least want to think they are driven by... whether your talking about environmental concerns of biomass combustion or safety concerns on the highway (having a great time these days trying to decipher the Federal Motor Carrier laws ... but that's another story altogether :-/ ).... at the end of the day... at the governmental level especially... IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY... and the INDIVIDUAL, which to me is the most important ingredient in our recipe for freedom, is given very little, if any, consideration. We are becoming regulation top-heavy in this country, which in my humblest of opinions, quenches the entrepreneurial spirit that once made our economy strong, and forces businesses to be less diverse than they once could have been.

    Don't get me wrong... I understand the need for regulation in order to have a civilized society... but it's all about balance. If anyone can look at the new clean air regs coming down from the epa and tell me that they are "balanced" I would be suprised. I forget what the cost to small business was going to be... i believe I posted it before.. something like 2 BILLION dollars. Yes BILLION. Given the current state of the economy, I don't know how this helps anyone except for a few companies selling and installing industrial baggers etc. It just seems crazy. Maybe in a different decade with a different economy it would be a different story.

    At any rate... I'll step down off my soap box now. Have a wonderful weekend to all.

    Cheers
  6. Donl

    Donl Feeling the Heat

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    Well said Piker!
  7. ernie

    ernie Member

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    I just ran across tis link on Fox News Sci-Tec page
    http://video.foxnews.com/v/4303103/debate-over-carbon-neutral-status-of-biomass-industry/
    Debate Over 'Carbon Neutral' Status of Biomass Industry
    EPA threatening to pull the plug on an American renewable energy industry

    Everyone needs to see this, it looks like Big Brother EPA is wanting to view our biomass industry as "dangerous carbon"

    Can this administration do anything else new to drive our country into further ruin? I guess when we all are using windmills and rubber bands to power our energy sources they will be satisfied.

    Any comments from the floor?
  8. imacman

    imacman Guest

    Yes, they can (and will) do anything they can to turn us into the United States of France. Be afraid....be VERY afraid!!!! :ahhh:
  9. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Moderator - suggest moving this to the Green Room.

    This is complicated, to say the least. I am a strong proponent of biomass for energy, as witnessed by 20 years of wood burning. Yet, all the wood I have burned likely has emitted more carbon than all the carbon sequestered by the new growth spawned by my harvesting of trees for firewood. Had I not cut these trees, many still might be living, and others would be on the forest floor or standing dead wood. All of these still would have retained, likely, most of their carbon rather than having released it to the atmosphere in decomposition, and many new trees would have been naturally regenerated -- net result more carbon sequestration, not neutrality.

    20 years probably is not long enough to reach a carbon neutral equilibrium for burning wood -- perhaps 40 years is. The point being that in the short run, biomass to energy likely is not carbon neutral, but at some longer term a carbon neutral equilibrium probably is reached, at least in some cases.

    Further complications with biomass are the energy inputs needed before a harvest occurs resulting in biomass ready for energy conversion. With some forests (and trees), these may be minimal, such as through natural regeneration where appropriate. In other situations substantial site prep occurs, including herbicides and sometimes fertilizers, both energy intensive in manufacture and application. With non-tree biomass the picture may change substantially, as cultivation, fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, processing, drying, etc. all involve substantial energy inputs, and carbon outputs.

    Therefore, and I would logically say the EPA is probably justified in examining this issue, the carbon neutrality of biomass in the totality needs to be analyzed vis-a-vis other energy sources with regard to carbon output. I doubt this will have much impact on homeowner use of wood or pellets for fuel. The impact likely will fall on large-scale energy consumers, such as electricity generation.

    I see no reason to panic or fear. We have way too much fear-mongering and panic does not produce rational discourse. This already is a hot political issue, and as politics get involved, clarity and rationality becomes in short supply. Instead, greed, money and profits become the name of the game.
  10. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Moderator - similar post in the pellet forum. Suggest combining an moving to the Green Room. I posted a reply in the pellet forum.
  11. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Threads merged and moved to green room.

    Must be a slow news day. The EPA ruling came out months ago:
    http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/0...stry-sees-chilling-message-in-epas-60072.html

    The news is that congress sent a note over to the EPA asking them to check their ruling.
    http://www.woodbiomass.com/news/timber/news/Congress-biomass-MACT-AFPA-EPA.html

    I haven't read the full ruling yet, but is seems directed more towards assuring clean burning in large biomass boilers.
    "The proposed MACT standards would classify biomass boiler units, conventionally considered multi-fuel boilers, as incinerators and would be subject to new emission limits for mercury, hydrogen chloride, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and dioxin. The new proposed ruling is originally part of the Clean Air Act of 1990." http://www.biomassintel.com/bpa-boiling-epa-proposed-mact-rule/
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    This is a more informed and possibly affected group on the impact wrt boilers. Moving thread, but will leave the link open to the boiler room for further commentary.
  13. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I think is is GW's or Reagans fault!
    :)
    And the world is ending tomorrow because of them - the chinese are talking over!

    Well, back to the regularly scheduled program - there are many factors at play when large biomass operations are considered. As some of our resident engineers have noted, burning green biomass for electricity only is terribly ineffective! I think we are talking 10-30% total efficiency. So throwing it into a giant burner alone or mixed with coal DOES create a lot of carbon.......which is NOT offset by getting a lot of energy (poor efficiency).

    My first suggestion is to not relate it to Rev. Wright, Freedom Fries or WMD. It is exactly the opposite. The reason you are hearing about this is BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY THINKING FOR ONCE. Look, we've already been making mistakes for 30-40 years or longer - for forge ahead blinding would just add to the problems!

    A similar news story has made the rounds in Ma. for the last couple of months. Here is a simple explanation for these stories....

    1. Green biomass plants which are electric only are inefficient.
    2. Many of the plans put into place by states are supposed to cut the CO2 emissions in 10-15 years. Therefore, when you do an actual study, the carbon from the inefficient burning measured against the wood use and the low efficiency means that it is not a good deal WITHIN THAT TIME PERIOD.

    In modern civilization we have to measure things on a large scale. We also have to use resources in the most efficient manner possible. It would seem that biomass wastes would be used for everything EXCEPT inefficient green burning, those uses being:

    1. Building materials
    2. Pellets
    3. Biobricks, etc.
    4. Combined heat and power plants using air-dried, solar driers or other more efficient methods.

    No, the sky is not falling. In fact, quite the opposite! People are debating and thinking.....which really is a CHANGE for a CHANGE.
  14. ihookem

    ihookem Minister of Fire

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    Well, I don't think people are thinking any more than they ever were. I think the EPA is a big fat power hungry part of government. I again think if government stays out of it the companies making the biomass plants the companies will figure out very fast if the inefficiency is worth the cost. In the private sector, it's a good gauge. Thinking from big Government is usually the most inefficient brain dead entity there is. Also, if they get get biomass plants to shut down how long will it be before EPA sits down and needs someone else to dictate like small wood burner and OWB manufactures? Not long I bet.
  15. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I guess Nixon was bad for starting it!

    Well, all government might be big and bad in your opinion, however you can rest assured that EPA has saved MILLIONS of Americans from disease and early death. That might not matter to you, but it does to me and many others.

    You are certainly right that "people are not thinking any more than they ever were"....that's for sure!
  16. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    The thing that bugs me is that the EPA has almost draconian power to intercede and interfere with our lives. This summer they came out and classified raw milk as a hazardous waste. Yah.........you heard that right......raw milk, as it comes from the cow. Stuff I grew up drinking right from the cooler on my uncles farm.
    By the same logic, water is hazardous to our health also.....I'm just sayin'...........
    I'll match total carbon emitted from production to combustion & power generation between a bio mass plant and a coal powered plant any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Just consider the mining and transport of coal to harvesting a wood lot for a minute.........
    After that do a little searching on the www about EPA's headquarters at Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. If that place was designed and built with carbon emissions in mind I'll eat my shorts.
    Good grief, what do they want us to do live in tents made out of deer skin and eat berries we find in the woods? They'll probably claim that's excessively harmful to the environment also.

    Don't get me wrong here, I am all for best practices and technology and I have to say that years of false claims, downright rotten technology by many of the wood burner manufacturers, along with user ignorance has probably gotten us in trouble we deserve at this point. We all need to be mindful of the resources we use and the earth we live on or it won't be around to support our grandkids.
  17. ihookem

    ihookem Minister of Fire

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    When did I say ALL government is big and bad? Putting words in my mouth again so you can make a point I'm sure. Also, when Nixon started it they didn't have a fraction of the power they have now. Yes, there was a time for the EPA and sometimes they are needed but they seem to be able to do as they please with our tax money. As a matter of fact the EPA can be used to do things that can't get done through congress. This tells me it's time to pull back the ropes on their power. They can even tell me how to change a window in a house built before 1978 because of lead paint. It is a foolish law that tells me I have to take a lead abatement class for 300 bucks and a day wasted in a room. This is way over board and my opinion is they make regulations so strict it gets very hard to do even change a window not to mention make a bio mass plant. Not that I think bio mass plants are the future, I'm saying if a company wants to make it they should be helped instead of being heckled.
  18. ihookem

    ihookem Minister of Fire

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    LOL heaterman, you crack me up! Oh and by the way they don't want you eating berries in the woods because it will make you fart and that will emit a carbon foot print on the earth. Your body will also have to get rid of it in 12 hours and that should be regulated too, even if you are living in a deer hide tent. Come to think of it I've been hearing about the cows and pigs being taxed because they put out carbon and want to place a carbon tax on farmers with cows and pigs. Did it ever dawn on them it's actually nitrogen for the crops? Heaterman, you helped make my point.
  19. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I guess, then, you don't have to be educated that Anthrax often comes from dead animals and the eColi is in the guts of cows also.

    Damn, make sure you don't expose yourself to those "natural and organic" products!

    As you well know, the EPA has to go through various channels and legal processes to do anything. IMHO, looking around this wasteland (our country), they have no done enough! Take a close look around where you live.....

    We have so much pollution here it is disgusting! PCB's, as you know, and lots of other junk line the bottom of the Hudson and many other major rivers. We have perchlorate in our water and in our ponds. The list of polluted sites just within 20 miles of here is too long to even fit on one page, and the deaths and suffering caused to human beings is vast.

    When millions of American stop suffering and dying from environmental toxins (dirty air, water, land, etc.), then get back to me around our rights.
  20. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Time for you to leave out pails for your neighbors and then empty them onto your lawn and garden for the nitrogen content. Or, just ask them to deliver. You could create some "homeless latrines" and try to entice people to come and fertilize your gardens.
  21. leaddog

    leaddog Minister of Fire

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    Called ORGANIC FARMING. Be sure and wash your veggies. They don't have any of that Bad fertilizer and bug spray on them cause they let the chickens, ducks, pigs eat all that bad bugs, carrion, and pick thru the cow and horse manure before they put it on the plants to make those nice red tomatoes. They maybe even mulch those nice red strawberries with the left over straw after the cattle and pigs and chickens have bedded in it. Oh yes don't forget all those wonderful english sparrows that build those nests in the hay and straw before it's spread on the ground so you get nice and CLEAN veggies that you spend three times as much. But like heaterman said you don't have to worry about any of that milk getting spilt on the ground cause every farmer has to have an environmental plan in place so it doesn't pollute all that ground water.
    but if the EPA can figure out how to tax all that bio-mass then they just might be able to figure out how it will help replace all that money peoples influence from coal, oil, gas and we'll be all set. Remember, the GOV doesn't do things for the people they do things where the money is and I'm talking DEM,REP and Tea sippers. You can't get into Washington without going to the money. Until all campaigns are totally financed by the gov I don't how you can keep the money out of it. And I don't think the EPA really cares if I save money cutting my own wood but they do care when I don't but that propane,oil, etc to help pay their pay check.
    leaddog
  22. ihookem

    ihookem Minister of Fire

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    No it won't go into anyones gardens unless the land owner wants some. The farmer just spreads it back on the hay field where the cows food came from. Helps the hay grow that's for sure. Don't you know that? You must know that web.
    As for anthrax in the guts of animals. Well there must be anthrax all over the woods we hunt, fish and cut our wood. I never heard that one and I live in the middle of farm country all my life. With all the hunting and trapping I've done I don't know anyone who has ever gotten anthrax. Never! I think the EPA is using fear tactics if they told you that. ANYONE else ever hear of anthrax in the guts of animals? I know an owner of a slaughter house and butchers thousands of chickens cows pigs and everything else. She is alive and well. And what if there is anthrax in the guts? Now we will need EPA standing over everyone gutting and butchering?
  23. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    "Bacillus anthracis can form dormant spores that are able to survive in harsh conditions for extremely long periods of time—even decades or centuries. Such spores can be found on all continents, even Antarctica. When spores are inhaled, ingested, or come into contact with a skin lesion on a host they may reactivate and multiply rapidly.

    Anthrax commonly infects wild and domesticated herbivorous mammals which ingest or inhale the spores while grazing. Ingestion is thought to be the most common route by which herbivores contract anthrax. Carnivores living in the same environment may become infected by consuming infected animals. Diseased animals can spread anthrax to humans, either by direct contact (e.g. inoculation of infected blood to broken skin) or consumption of a diseased animal's flesh."

    There you go. Remember the whole country was running around with their heads cut off because of the potential of Anthrax!

    The point is not that the EPA should watch over, but rather that Heaterman seemed to say that everything natural and organic was somehow not harmful...when, in fact, many of the most dangerous things on the planet are very natural.

    You may be able to consume raw milk - some can, and some can't. It might be that pouring raw milk onto the ground causes rapid growth of certain harmful bacteria. I don't know. But I do know this - in general we use SCIENCE to determine these things and that works out better than the middle ages when we were dropping by the millions from all these "natural" causes!
  24. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    eColi bacteria can and does spread from fecal contamination. It's a very good thing to watch out for.
  25. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    The high nutrient content of the milk is what makes it hazardous. You dump a bad load of milk, milk is deemed bad if it arrives at the processor at only slightly warmer than fridge temp, into a creek or into the sewage system and all heck breaks loose. That milk in the creek will suck up all the oxygen while it tries to decompose and the life that needs that oxygen (think fish) will suffocate. You dump it into my sewage system and the processes that are designed for regular strength waste will be overloaded and not able to "clean" the milk or the sewage so all of it will overflow into the river. Milk is good stuff, I consume great quantities and don't cry when it's spilled. In great quantities it is very hazardous to the environment. Not all hazardous waste is directly harmful to people.
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