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BioMass – BioEnergy Greenwash

FAO definition must recognize that plantations are not forests!

Harvesting the wood... NOT sustainable - NOT Green Photo Credit: World Rainforest Movement

Harvesting the wood… NOT sustainable – NOT Green Photo Credit: World Rainforest Movement

On 21 March, the International Day of Forests, 180 organisations are reminding the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) that its misleading forest definition dating back to 1948 must be changed. The definition has allowed the plantations industry to hide the devastating ecological and social impacts of large-scale monoculture tree plantations behind a positive forest image.

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Biofuel or Biofraud?

wood biomassBiofuels consumed today are usually ethanol made from the sugar in sugar cane (or sugar beet) or they may be made from starch in grains. In the US this is mostly corn starch. Alternatively, biodiesel may be made from plant oils such as soybean or canola oil. Cellulosic biofuels, on the other hand, are biofuels made from crop residues (e.g. corn stover), wood, or whole plants, especially grasses (e.g. switchgrass). Cellulosic biofuels include cellulosic ethanol (made by isolating, breaking down and then fermenting the complex sugars in the cell walls of plants), as well as ‘drop in biofuels’. These biofuels are chemically almost identical to fossil-fuel based kerosene, diesel or gasoline.

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Thinning Forests for Bioenergy Can Worsen Climate

thinning_studyA new study out of the Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon concludes that selectively logging or “thinning” forests for bioenergy can increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and exacerbate climate change. The study, “Thinning Combined With Biomass Energy Production May Increase, Rather Than Reduce, Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” by D.A. DellaSala and M. Koopman, challenges bioenergy and timber industry assertions that logging forests will aid in the fight against climate change.

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GREC’s one-two punch of spin and litigation

gainesville-renewable-energyA two-week-long, multi-million-dollar courtroom battle ended last Thursday with closing arguments by lawyers for the Boston-based, internationally owned entity known as Gainesville Renewable Energy Center and lawyers for a more-than-three-decades-old, family-owned Gainesville biomass recycling business, Wood Resource Recovery. While the two sides await a judgment by the court, not expected until June, GREC is proceeding apace with new and separate litigation with a different opponent and different warriors. That second legal battle, initiated by GREC in March against the city of Gainesville and Gainesville Regional Utilities, is being fought by a different group of GREC lawyers. This new legal team, based in Boston, wants to force GRU to make millions of dollars in payments above and beyond the $60 million to $70 million annually GRU is already paying GREC — paying not for electricity, but for the right to purchase GREC electricity in the event GREC ever sells its electricity at a price equal to or less than the market rate.

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