Why biomass will never cleanly end —jsq

In Harrisburg, PA, same size as Valdosta, in a county of similar size, a trash incinerator bit the dust once, but got revived anyway, and will now probably only go away because: Harrisburg, PA loses solvency and trust over incinerator. There are many parallels here, especially the old boy network. However, the main point I want to draw everyone’s attention to at the moment is that although local activists may have gotten that incinerator closed down once, it came back anyway.

Why? Because their local old boys thought it would make money, and they thought they were so smart they could hire people who could make it work. As the NYTimes wrote, they were wrong. But it’s in the nature of old boy networks to think they know better. Because if they have worked their way up to be part of the old boys, they must be smarter or more hardworking, right?

So am I counselling despair? Not at all. What I am saying is that anyone who thinks there’s ever going to be a clean end to the local biomass plant will be waiting a long time, because there will always be old boys who think it will work and don’t care about anything health-related beyond the permits.

So what am I counselling? Carrots. The very same people who are adamant about building the biomass plant have provided us with the carrots needed to make sure it’s never built. I will spell out what I mean by that in following posts.

So does this mean reinforcing the old boy network? No, it means expanding it to include more of the community. I will spell out what I mean by that, too. Stay tuned.

To reiterate. There probably never will be a clean end to the biomass plant. Those who oppose it: keep doing that! Vigilance! But that’s not all. Because if that is all, you are using their own framing, and reinforcing the biomass supporters in their own minds. I will spell out what I mean by that, too.

You have to provide something better. Something that will produce energy and jobs and be cleaner. Fortunately, we know what that is: solar for south Georgia!


Update 20 May 2011: added links to some of the things I promised to spell out.

4 thoughts on “Why biomass will never cleanly end —jsq

  1. Karen Noll

    John, I agree whol-heartedly. We are fooling ourselves if we think that the biomass buzy-ness folks will walk away from that there air permit. Right now, the economy looks bad, we don’t need the enregy, and the project lacks community support. In a yar or two things might look different. We can look at Port St. Joe as an example of this rebounding biomess. Its not over even when they say its over. But the community is awake, aware and we have begun some of the dialogueing that needs to go on.
    Very good comments. I gotta subscribe to this comment feed and keep checking the LAKE!!

  2. Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange

    Yes, Port St. Joe is another example. “the community is awake”: Roy Copeland said almost the exact same thing to me a few weeks ago. There are many things to work on that may attract money towards solar and other better projects. Carrots, with allies you may not have suspected. -jsq

  3. Tim Carroll

    Interesting news John. Karen mentioned the air permit issue when I met with her several weeks ago. That may be something to take up with federal legislators. Air permits being a marketable product once received. I am curious, do you know if government subsidies go with them?

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