Occupy Ecology Deeply

This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in an effort to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. we believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

FAIR USE NOTICE FAIR USE NOTICE: This page may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This website distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for scientific, research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107.

Read more at: http://www.etupdates.com/fair-use-notice/#.UpzWQRL3l5M | ET. Updates
FAIR USE NOTICE FAIR USE NOTICE: This page may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. This website distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for scientific, research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107.

Read more at: http://www.etupdates.com/fair-use-notice/#.UpzWQRL3l5M | ET. Updates

All Blogs licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Guidance for woody biomass harvests

Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 14, 2011

Guidance for woody biomass harvests

By Bill Cook Special to the Record-Eagle

Michigan has developed a document called "Michigan Woody Biomass Harvesting Guidance." It's a concise 18 page outline that, when followed, should reduce environmental risks associated with energy harvests. The guidance was developed by a team of experts from industry, universities, non-government groups, and key public agencies. It is available on the Michigan DNR website.

Might harvesting biomass for energy purposes decimate our forest lands? This is a good question and the answer is resoundingly — not likely at all.

Forest owners are the folks that decide when, and if, any sort of timber harvest will occur on their property. Adding a new market, such as wood energy, to the mix of choices will not lead to a long line of forest owners wanting to harvest timber. Data from research done in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania support this intuitive premise.

However, having a market for low quality wood provides a much needed opportunity across most of the region.

The stumpage and mill prices for energy biomass are low. Typically this sort of harvest operation needs to be done in concert with other product removals, such as pulpwood and sawlogs. Otherwise, the money isn't always there for either the forest owner or the logger.

So, right off the bat, irresistible incentives to "decimate" forest lands don't exist.

Nevertheless, woody biomass for energy is regularly harvested from many timber sale operations. Sometimes the questions arise about nutrient impacts to the soil or the quality of wildlife habitat. These are more good questions that have pretty solid answers.

Nutrient impacts of timber harvest have been studied for decades. There are, indeed, certain forest types on certain sites where caution will be prudent. However, by and large, biomass harvest on most of our northern forest types, on most of our soils, does not present any issues with long term nutrient loss.

As far as habitat goes, much will vary with the wildlife species in question. Generally it is a good idea to leave, or create, such characteristics as standing snags, large logs on the ground, a shrub-sapling layer, and other structural features that make up a diverse set of habitat conditions.

Energy harvests won't change these prescriptions.

The Woody Biomass Harvesting Guidance is designed to be used in concert with the Sustainable Soil and Water Quality Practices on Forest Land manual (from the DNR), which describes practices for a range of resource protection. The Guidance is also compatible with forest certification requirements.

The Guidance advises biomass retention of a sixth to a third of the residues from timber harvest spread across the harvest site. If the site has little woody debris to begin with or if the site is particularly nutrient-poor, then leaving more biomass on the ground is recommended.

Biomass harvesting should be avoided in certain special conservation areas, unless the removal may enhance the management objectives. Leaf layers, stumps, and roots should be left. Large woody pieces should be left. Some of the standing dead trees and cull trees should be retained, when possible.

The Guidance cites additional recommendations for several specific situations, such as riparian zones, storm-damaged sites, exotic species, and others.

The Michigan Woody Biomass Harvesting Guidance is part of a package designed to help ensure the protection of forest resources. Other states, such as Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania have similar guidelines.

Bill Cook, an MSU Extension forester, provides educational programming for the entire Upper Peninsula. His office is located at the MSU Forest Biomass Innovation Center near Escanaba. The Center is the headquarters for three MSU Forestry properties in the U.P., with a combined area of about 8,000 acres.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

More homes heat with wood, raising pollution risks


More homes heat with wood, raising pollution risks

By Wendy Koch, USA TODAY

Mostly to save money, Matthew Walton switched a few years ago from heating his home with natural gas to wood, becoming a modern-day Paul Bunyan.

"The access to cheap wood made a difference," says Walton, a carpenter who lives on heavily forested land in Keene, N.H., where he chops his own fallen or dead trees.

"It saves us a bundle," he says, adding his wood stove can manage all winter with just two cords because he added insulation and good windows to his tidy, 1,300-square-foot home.

As energy prices rise, and winter approaches, more Americans are turning to wood to heat their homes, some hurrying to cash in on tax credits for efficient stoves that expire next month.

This upswing is prompting federal officials, concerned about the health and environmental impact of burning wood, to update 23-year-old certification criteria for stoves and set the first requirements for outdoor wood boilers, which heat water that's piped into homes.

"We are not in the business of telling people how to heat their homes," says Alison Davis of the Environmental Protection Agency, which plans to propose the new rules next year. But if they want to burn wood, Davis urges them to buy an EPA-certified stove and operate it properly so no smoke gets inside the house.

She says boilers are "significantly more polluting" than wood or pellet stoves because they have short stacks and use 10 times as much wood. Even so, she says those meeting the EPA's 2007 voluntary standards are 90% cleaner than older ones. "The technology has improved for wood stoves," Davis says, as has the research on the dangers of wood burning.

Wood heating's upswing

The number of U.S. households heating with wood rose 34% nationwide from 1.8 million in 2000 to 2.4 million in 2010 — faster than any other heating fuel, according to Census data.

"We're seeing a rise mainly in states with high oil and gas prices," most notably in Michigan and Connecticut, says John Ackerly of the Alliance for Green Heat, a nonprofit group that promotes wood stoves.

"It's a combination of rising energy prices and the economic downturn," he says, adding low- and middle-income households are much more likely than others to use wood for primary heating. In rural areas, he says many cut their own wood and in the suburbs, they get it free when trees fall.

He expects wood will become more popular this winter, citing the projected rise in household heating costs. Compared to last winter, heating will cost 3% more with natural gas and 8% more with oil this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Retailers are gearing up. U.S. shipments of pellet stoves, considered the most efficient way to burn wood, jumped 59% in the second quarter of this year, compared to the same time last year, and pellet fireplace inserts rose 72%, according to Leslie Wheeler of the the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, an industry group.

"We're expecting those numbers to continue to increase," Wheeler says, because of high fuel prices. She says the tax credits expiring this year — up to $300 for EPA-certified stoves — are not as generous as in 2009 and 2010 when they covered 30% of the cost, up to $1,500. She says many cost $3,000 to $4,000 with installation.

Wood's dirty downside

The problem is that most Americans burn wood in old, dirty devices. Traditional fireplaces are so inefficient they don't heat a room unless they've been retrofitted with a wood or pellet insert.

Of the 10 million wood stoves being used in the U.S., 70% to 80% are not EPA-certified and emit 70% more pollution than those that are, says Lisa Rector of the nonprofit NESCAUM (Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management.) She says most of the 500,000 outdoor wood boilers don't meet EPA's voluntary standards.

Several Northeast and Western states have "burn bans" and other rules to limit wood burning, particularly when air quality is bad.

"People don't realize burning wood is a source of pollution, indoors and outdoors, especially when you're using an older stove," says Janice Nolan of the American Lung Association. She says it can emit tiny particulate matter — soot and ash — that gets lodged in the lungs and toxic substances such as benzene, carbon monoxide and methane.

Walton says he bought an EPA-certified stove that does not emit smoke inside his home. He sees a health benefit in chopping wood and an aesthetic one in burning it, adding: "The stove has a certain ambience."

For more information about reprints & permissions, visit our FAQ's. To report corrections and clarifications, contact Standards Editor Brent Jones. For publication consideration in the newspaper, send comments to letters@usatoday.com. Include name, phone number, city and state for verification. To view our corrections, go to corrections.usatoday.com.

"We are not in the business of telling people how to heat their homes," says Alison Davis of the Environmental Protection Agency, which plans to propose the new rules next year. But if they want to burn wood, Davis urges them to buy an EPA-certified stove and operate it properly so no smoke gets inside the house.

EPA’s tips on burning wood wisely

EPA’s tips for smoke-free wood burning:

•Use an EPA-certified or qualified wood stove and have it correctly installed.

•Burn only dry, well-seasoned wood that’s been split properly.

•Store wood outdoors, stacked neatly off the ground with the top covered.

•Start fires with newspaper and dry kindling (never with gasoline, kerosene, charcoal starter, or a propane torch) or have a professional install a natural gas or propane log lighter.

•Burn hot fires. Regularly remove ashes from your stove into a metal container with a cover and store outdoors.

•Never burn household garbage, cardboard, driftwood, plywood, particleboard, moldy wood, wood with glue, or wood that’s been coated, painted or pressure-treated. These items could release toxic chemicals when burned.

•Keep all flammable household items (drapes, furniture, newspapers, and books) far from the stove and keep the stove’s doors closed unless loading or stoking the fire.

•Install and maintain a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide detector. Also, keep a fire extinguisher handy.

•Remember to check your local air quality forecast before you burn. Some areas have restrictions.

By Wendy Koch, USA TODAY

Key Facts on Keystone XL

Key Facts on Keystone XL

Energy Security: Tar Sand will not Reduce Dependence on Foreign Oil

Keystone XL will not lessen U.S. dependence on foreign oil, but transport Canadian oil to American refineries for export to overseas markets.

  • Keystone XL is an export pipeline. According to presentations to investors, Gulf Coast refiners plan to refine the cheap Canadian crude supplied by the pipeline into diesel and other products for export to Europe and Latin America. Proceeds from these exports are earned tax-free. Much of the fuel refined from the pipeline’s heavy crude oil will never reach U.S. drivers’ tanks.
  • Reducing demand for oil is the best way to improve our energy security. U.S. demand for oil has been declining since 2007. New fuel-efficiency standards mean that this trend will continue once the economy gets back on track. In fact, the Energy Deptartment report on KeystoneXL found that decreasing demand through fuel efficiency is the only way to reduce mid-east oil imports with or without the pipeline.

More info:

Gas prices: Keystone XL will increase gas prices for Americans—Especially Farmers

  • By draining Midwestern refineries of cheap Canadian crude into export-oriented refineries in the Gulf Coast, Keystone XL will increase the cost of gas for Americans.
  • TransCanada’s 2008 Permit Application states “Existing markets for Canadian heavy crude, principally PADD II [U.S. Midwest], are currently oversupplied, resulting in price discounting for Canadian heavy crude oil. Access to the USGC [U.S. Gulf Coast] via the Keystone XL Pipeline is expected to strengthen Canadian crude oil pricing in [the Midwest] by removing this oversupply. This is expected to increase the price of heavy crude to the equivalent cost of imported crude. The resultant increase in the price of heavy crude is estimated to provide an increase in annual revenue to the Canadian producing industry in 2013 of US $2 billion to US $3.9 billion.”
  • Independent analysis of these figures found this would increase per-gallon prices by 20 cents/gallon in the Midwest.
  • According to an independent analysis U.S. farmers, who spent $12.4 billion on fuel in 2009 could see expenses rise to $15 billion or higher in 2012 or 2013 if the pipeline goes through. At least $500 million of the added expense would come from the Canadian market manipulation.

More information:

Jobs: TransCanada’s jobs projections are vastly inflated.

  • In 2008, TransCanada’s Presidential Permit application for Keystone XL to the State Department indicated “a peak workforce of approximately 3,500 to 4,200 construction personnel” to build the pipeline.
  • Jobs estimates above those listed in its application draw from a 2011 report commissioned by TransCanada that estimates 20,000 “person-years” of employment based on a non-public forecast model using undisclosed inputs provided by TransCanada.
  • According to TransCanada’s own data, just 11% of the construction jobs on the Keystone I pipeline in South Dakota were filled by South Dakotans–most of them for temporary, low-paying manual labor.
  • Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) both oppose the pipeline. Their August 2011 statement: “We need jobs, but not ones based on increasing our reliance on Tar Sands oil. There is no shortage of water and sewage pipelines that need to be fixed or replaced, bridges and tunnels that are in need of emergency repair, transportation infrastructure that needs to be renewed and developed. Many jobs could also be created in energy conservation, upgrading the grid, maintaining and expanding public transportation—jobs that can help us reduce air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and improve energy efficiency.”

More Information:

Safety: A rupture in the Keystone XL pipeline could cause a BP style oil spill in America’s heartland, over the source of fresh drinking water for 2 million people. NASA’s top climate scientist says that fully developing the tar sands in Canada would mean “essentially game over” for the climate.

  • The U.S. Pipeline Safety Administration has not yet conducted an in depth analysis of the safety of diluted bitumen (raw tar sands) pipeline, despite unique safety concerns posed by its more corrosive properties.
  • TransCanada predicted that the Keystone I pipeline would see one spill in 7 years. In fact, there have been 12 spills in 1 year. The company was ordered to dig up 10 sections of pipe after government-ordered tests indicated that defective steel may have been used. KeystoneXL will use steel from the same Indian manufacturer.
  • Keystone XL will cross through America’s agricultural heartland, the Missouri and Niobrara Rivers, the Ogallala aquifer, sage grouse habitat, walleye fisheries and more.
  • The agency was not adequately accounting for threats to wildlife, increased pollution in distressed communities where the crude may be refined, or increases in carbon emissions that would exacerbate climate change, and a variety of other issues.

More Information

Climate Change: Keystone XL is the fuse to North America’s biggest carbon bomb.

  • In a study funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, a group of retired four-star generals and admirals concluded that climate change, if not addressed, will be the greatest threat to national security.
  • The State Department Environmental Impact Statement fails to adequately analyze lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by the pipeline. Extraction and refinement of oil sands are more GHG-intensive compared to conventional oil. The EIS estimates that the additional annual GHG emissions from the proposed pipeline could range from an additional “12-23 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent… (roughly the equivalent of annual emissions from 2 to 4 coal-fired power plants)” over conventional crude oil from the Middle East. [8] The EPA believes that the methodology used by the State Department is inaccurate and could underestimate GHG emissions by as much as 20 percent.[9] Given that the expected lifetime of the Keystone XL pipeline is fifty years, the EPA notes that the project could yield an extra 1.15 billion tons of GHGs using the quantitative estimates in the EIS.[10]

Keystone XL Pipeline: The Details.

Keystone XL Pipeline

The Canadian oil and gas company TransCanada hopes to begin building a new oil pipeline that would trek close to 2,000 miles from Alberta, Canada to Texas. If constructed, the pipeline, known as the Keystone XL, will carry one of the world’s dirtiest fuels: tar sands oil. Along its route from Alberta to Texas, this pipeline could devastate ecosystems and pollute water sources, and would jeopardize public health.

Giant oil corporations invested in Canada's tar sands are counting on the Keystone XL pipeline to make the expansion of oil extraction operations profitable: The pipeline would double imports of dirty tar sands oil into the United States.

Before TransCanada can begin construction, however, the company needs a presidential permit from the Obama administration.

Your voice is needed to tell the Obama administration to say “no” to the Keystone XL pipeline and the highly polluting tar sands oil that would come with it.

Dirty tar sands oil

Pollution from tar sands oil greatly eclipses that of conventional oil. During tar sands oil production alone, levels of carbon dioxide emissions are three times higher than those of conventional oil, due to more energy-intensive extraction and refining processes. The Keystone XL pipeline would carry 900,000 barrels of dirty tar sands oil into the United States daily, doubling our country's reliance on it and resulting in climate-damaging emissions equal to adding more than six million new cars to U.S. roads.

Water waste

During the tar sands oil extraction process, vast amounts of water are needed to separate the extracted product, bitumen, from sand, silt, and clay. It takes three barrels of water to extract each single barrel of oil. At this rate, tar sands operations use roughly 400 million gallons of water a day. Ninety percent of this polluted water is dumped into large human-made pools, known as tailing ponds, after it’s used. These ponds are home to toxic sludge, full of harmful substances like cyanide and ammonia, which has worked its way into neighboring clean water supplies.

Indigenous populations

Northern Alberta, the region where tar sands oil is extracted, is home to many indigenous populations. Important parts of their cultural traditions and livelihood are coming under attack because of tar sands operations. Communities living downstream from tailing ponds have seen spikes in rates of rare cancers, renal failure, lupus, and hyperthyroidism. In the lakeside village of Fort Chipewyan, for example, 100 of the town’s 1,200 residents have died from cancer.

These problems will only get worse, unless tar sands production is halted. Unfortunately, an area the size of Florida is already set for extraction. Investing in a new pipeline would increase the rate of production, while decreasing the quality of life for indigenous populations.

Pipeline spills

TransCanada already attempted to cut corners by seeking a safety waiver to build the pipeline with thinner-than-normal steel and to pump oil at higher-than-normal pressures. Thanks to the pressure exerted by Friends of the Earth and allies, the company withdrew its safety waiver application in August 2010.

The threat of spills remains. In summer 2010, a million gallons of tar sands oil poured into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan from a pipeline run by another Canadian company, Enbridge. The spill exposed residents to toxic chemicals, coated wildlife and has caused long-term damage to the local economy and ecosystem.

Heightening concerns, TransCanada's Keystone I pipeline has spilled a dozen times in less than a year of operation, prompting a corrective action order from the Department of Transportation. Experts warn that the more acidic and corrosive consistency of the type of tar sands oil being piped into the U.S. makes spills more likely, and have joined the EPA in calling on the State Department to conduct a thorough study of these risks.

The Keystone XL pipeline would traverse six U.S. states and cross major rivers, including the Missouri River, Yellowstone, and Red Rivers, as well as key sources of drinking and agricultural water, such as the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies two million Americans.

Refining tar sands oil

After traveling through the Keystone XL pipeline, tar sands oil would be brought to facilities in Texas to be further refined. Refining tar sands oil is dirtier than refining conventional oil, and results in higher emissions of toxic sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide. These emissions cause smog and acid rain and contribute to respiratory diseases like asthma. Communities near the refineries where the Keystone XL pipeline would terminate, many of them low-income and communities of color, already live with dangerously high levels of air pollution. The Keystone XL pipeline would further exacerbate the heavy burden of pollution and environmental injustices these communities confront.

Stopping the pipeline

Tar sands oil is one of the dirtiest fuels on the Earth. Investing in tar sands oil now will delay investments in clean and safe alternatives to oil, such as better fuel economy requirements, plug-in electric cars fueled by solar power, and smart growth and public transportation infrastructure that give Americans choices other than cars.

Soon, President Obama will decide the fate of this pipeline. Tell President Obama to say “no” to dirty tar sands oil.

Take action now

Tell President Obama to halt construction of the Keystone XL

Social media

Join our Facebook Page

Follow us on Twitter


Fact sheets:

Report -- Dirty Business: How TransCanada Pipelines bullies farmers, manipulates oil markets, threatens fresh water and skimps on safety in the United States

Interviews -- Telling their stories: The Fight to Stop the Keystone XL Tar Sands Oil Pipeline

Uncovering oil lobbyist influence -- Read about the intensifying scandal regarding the State Department's Keystone XL review

Infographic -- Keystone XL pipeline corruption investigation

Nationwide organizing -- Learn more about the Tar Sands Action's nationwide organizing

Press releases and related media

Read our Keystone XL controversy news round up from October 14, 2011

Read our Keystone XL controversy news round up from October 5, 2011

Read our round up of Keystone XL controversy news following the release of "smoking gun" State Department documents, our lawsuit against the State Department and the expansion of our FOIA request, October 3, 2011 - October 6, 2011

"For Obama, Peer Pressure from Nobel Laureates," New York Times, September 19, 2011

"Poll finds solid opposition to pipeline," World-Herald News Service, September 19, 2011

"State Department Keystone XL pipeline impacts analysis slammed as inadequate," Friends of the Earth, August 26, 2011.

"Tar Sands and the Carbon Numbers," New York Times editorial, August 21, 2011.

"Dozens arrested outside White House in Keystone pipeline protests," The Canadian Press, August 20, 2011.

"Pipeline from Canada may already have U.S. backing," Los Angeles Times, July 13, 2011.

"Study warns of leak risks of Canada-U.S. oil pipe," Reuters, July 11, 2011.

"Without Keystone XL, oil sands face choke point," The Globe and Mail, June 8, 2011.

"EPA lining up with Keystone XL critics," Lincoln Journal Star, June 7, 2011.

"Perilous pipeline: Will Hillary Clinton give the OK to a massive tar-sands pipeline?" Grist, June 3, 2011.

"Keystone Oil Pipeline: Regulators Block Restart Of Keystone Oil Pipeline, Cite Leaks," Huffington Post, June 3, 2011.

"New Report Reveals ‘Dirty Business’ Practices of TransCanada Pipelines," Friends of the Earth, April 28, 2011

"State Department Releases Supplemental Environmental Analysis on Keystone XL Tar Sands Oil Pipeline," Friends of the Earth, April 15, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Woman with a Plan: The Real Story of Margaret Sanger

Salon Home

New Deal 2.0

Wednesday, Nov 2, 2011 12:35 PM Eastern Daylight Time

Was Planned Parenthood’s founder racist?

Cain is hardly the first abortion foe to smear Margaret Sanger with such accusations. Here's the real story

sanger cain

(Credit: Wikipedia/AP)

This piece originally appeared on New Deal 2.0.

Birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger is back in the news this week thanks to GOP presidential candidate and abortion rights opponent Herman Cain, who claimed on national television that Planned Parenthood, the visionary global movement she founded nearly a century ago, is really about one thing only: “preventing black babies from being born.” Cain’s outrageous and false accusation is actually an all too familiar canard — a willful repetition of scurrilous claims that have circulated for years despite detailed refutation by scholars who have examined the evidence and unveiled the distortions and misrepresentations on which they are based (for a recent example, see this rebuttal from The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler).

Ellen Chesler is a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and author of "Woman of Valor: Margaret Sanger and the Birth Control Movement in America." More Ellen Chesler