Double Victory Against Biomass Incineration!
The spirit of resistance is being kept alive and well in the tradition of
Cascadia's rich history of meeting greed with passion for life. In Olympia,
Washington, Olympia Rising Tide won the campaign against a proposed biomass incinerator planned to be built at the Evergreen State College, and one of two biomass incinerators proposed in Shelton, WA! Our victory shows the effectiveness of collaborative organizing, a diversity of tactics and persistence in the face of corporate power. However, biomass incineration is still a very real threat all over the world, and now is a crucial time to step it up and stop it from destroying our forests, air and health. The tides are beginning to turn, now is the time to fight for climate justice!
Biomass: A wasteland in green clothing
Once upon a time the logging industry was strong and powerful throughout the land of Cascadia. They succeeding in clear-cutting so much of the forest, that eventually there wasn't much left to log. This, combined with the new giant machines used for extracting trees, left the people with very few jobs. The great economic collapse of 2008 left the timber corporations desperate for a new market to sell their product to. Meanwhile, the corporate executives in the energy industry were working to maintain their rule over the people and ecosystems, and were being forced to address the climate chaos they are responsible for. The industries got together, and decided they would burn forests and toxic waste for energy, make the taxpayers pay for it, and pretend that it's "clean energy." They paid a bunch of scientists to support their claims of its safety and "carbon neutrality," and began a propaganda campaign to sell their idea. Their close friends in Washington D.C. were more than willing to help, and put major subsidies for biomass incineration in to the federal stimulus package. The corporations were on their way to a new industrial extraction-based future---and only a scattered network of grassroots resistance stood in their way.
People in places where these incinerators exist have been suffering from the epic health impacts of these incinerators. They were able to spread the word to a limited number of people, and eventually some unbiased studies took place. The American Lung Association linked the exposure to the pollutants from biomass incineration to a lethal brew of diseases and conditions. Many people were outraged by the assertion that cutting down the trees that hold on to our carbon was going to stop climate change. In May 2010, the Manomet Group released a study claiming that the impacts of biomass incineration could potentially have a greater impact on the climate than burning coal.
Welcome to Nevergreen
Cheetwoot, now colonized and known as Olympia, settled right at the southernmost point of the Puget Sound has long been exploited by logging companies and has long been filled with resistance. The Evergreen State College, which claims to be a leader in sustainability, tried to jump on the "biomass is carbon neutral" bandwagon and proposed an incinerator adjacent to its childcare center. The biomass facility would have burned two truckloads a day of "woody debris", which they claimed would mostly be slash, a bi-product of logging. Proponents of the facility argued that this project wouldn't have a negative impact on the forest, even though slash provides important nutrients for the forest ecosystem. And pretty soon there won't be enough slash in the area to meet the demand, and they would likely end up burning forests.
Evergreen's goal was to be carbon neutral, but this was not carbon neutral-- biomass puts more CO2 into the atmosphere than the natural gas they currently use. It would also burn forests that if left standing provide a carbon sink, taking CO2 from the atmosphere and holding it into the future.
Our campaign found success in adopting a diversity of tactics where we made sure to have a consistent presence. A focus of ours was to make sure that the Olympia community outside of Evergreen is heard and that the administration is aware that this will effect more then just Evergreen.
On April 1st, after over 8 months of work, we found out that part of the funding was taken back thereby squashing the project. Where it stands now,
Evergreen is continuing to do research and its possible they will try to re-amp
the project at some point in the future. But for now, Olympia Rising Tide is enjoying a victory and we're very excited to have more time for other campaigns!
Point is, we brought the fucking noise Cascadia style!
contribute to this article
add comment to discussion