Thursday's protest was in response to a tour of the newly completed facility for around 200 individuals who had supported the construction, including a Lane County commissioner and city councilor of Springfield.
The biomass burning facility burns wood waste and slash leftover from logging and has been producing power for the Eugene Water and Electric Board since February of this year. For Seneca, this plant will allow them to convert all 'waste' product from their logging operations into company profit, while ignoring the impact to our climate, our lungs, and our forests. Although biomass burning is less efficient than coal and emits up to twice as much carbon dioxide per unit of energy produced, it is touted as a green solution, and a sustainable resource. Proponents of biomass claim that replanted trees will capture and store carbon, therefore making biomass burning carbon neutral, yet this ignores the fact that the recapture of carbon will take thousands of years, which offers very little short term benefit as we sit on a tipping point for climate chaos. In other words, 'maybe carbon neutral someday' is not good enough. The Environmental Protection Agency itself is unsure about the impacts of biomass burning and has not decided whether or not to classify biomass as a renewable energy form.
Locals concerned with air pollution have also expressed concern about the health effects of particulates released into the air from the plant. Jason Gonzalez with Cascadia Forest Defenders said "This very toxic air will be released into their neighborhood, that's already being completely covered in chip board making facilities and other facilities. The area is surrounded by smoke stacks, and this is just another smokestack. And the simple matter is, no matter how Seneca wants to paint it, clean energy doesn't come out of a smoke stack."
Seneca-Jones Timber Company has been the subject of much controversy over the past decade. They purchased the rights to log the old growth and native Trapper timber sale in the Willamette National forest, which is currently the subject of a lawsuit by Oregon Wild and Cascadia Wildlands.