Tag Archives: black neighborhood

Banned or Blocked Biomass Incinerators

Leigh Touchton responds to Brad Lofton’s letter of 22 September 2010. WACE is Wiregrass Activists for Clean Energy; more on that new organization later.

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From: Leigh Touchton
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 2010 20:04:48 -0400
Subject: Mr. Lofton once again misrepresents the facts
To: wace-georgia@googlegroups.com
Cc: blofton@industrialauthority.com, [and the VDT and some elected officials and other interested parties]

Dear WACE:

1. Mr. Lofton stated: “Despite what Mrs. Touchton stated, we’ve been in touch with the Massachusetts and Florida EPD, and in no way, shape, or form is either state banning biomass facilities. In fact, there are 15 scheduled now for New England, many in Mass, and a number in Florida. There have been discussions regarding the level of incentives (tax credits) allowed, but no moratorium. We’ll be happy to share our contacts with you.”

I would like for Mr. Lofton to share his contacts with WACE. Because previously his contacts at the Sierra Club were misrepresented by him. Sierra Club does NOT endorse Biomass Incineration, neither does any other major environmental organization in America.

I would also like Mr. Lofton to share his private email list of stakeholders with WACE, in particular the investors, because I would like to share some information with them. I expect transparency in our public officials and his refusal to address my letter to the editor of the Valdosta Daily Times in the same newspaper in which it was published does not lead me to believe that he is operating in good faith. I am very disturbed that any public official would state that they did not want to “energize a forum for misinformation” regarding published concerns in the local newspaper. Mr. Lofton has a duty to respond to all citizens’ concerns publicly. I am very disturbed that he thought he could privately email a group about my published letter to the editor and that the first I learned of it was nearly a month after he did so. And no, I still don’t wish to have a private telephone conversation with him or a private meeting with him, I’ve been reading all the public documents that have resulted from his supposed lengthy due diligence period. As I stated, the first I learned of this proposed biomass incinerator was when the EPD called for public comments. Mr. Lofton and Councilman James Wright were both invited to the June Women in the NAACP meeting and neither man showed up so I don’t really care to engage in who didn’t return whose phone calls. Additionally he could have made contact with the schools and churches in the area, or attended an SCLC or NAACP meeting but he did not. All our our meetings are open to the public, unlike his private list of stakeholders.

Here’s one internet article on the moratorium in Massachusetts.

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“Carbon is absolutely not an issue with our plant.”

Below is a response to my letter of 22 September 2010.

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Date: On Wed, Sep 22, 2010 at 3:16 PM
From: Brad Lofton <blofton@industrialauthority.com>

John:

Thank you for your e-mail and the professional way in which you have come and met with our staff to discuss these issues. I certainly respect your concerns, especially since you felt it important enough to take the time to meet with us a number of times to pursue dialogue and exchange information.

You are absolutely correct in stating that we provided you peer reviewed scientific literature proving that biomass plants are indeed carbon neutral. Dr. Carl Manning, an environmental professor at VSU who has done significant research in biomass, agrees and completely supports our project. It is also important to note that we will be using inert landfill material that would otherwise produce methane if left to rot in a landfill. As you know, methane is considered a greenhouse gas. This is another very positive environmental benefit of our project (one of many). Carbon is absolutely not an issue with our plant.

Rest assured that no trees will be harvested for this plant. The plant’s EPD permit is very specific about this point, and federal tax credits require the use of “wood waste.” Any deviation will result in plant closure by the EPD. Our Authority would not have supported “whole log” production, because of the environmental impact and also because of the competition it would create for several of our large existing industries (PCA, Langdale) that count on whole logs for production. We made the use of “wood waste” a condition of moving forward.

A couple of other areas of misinformation that we would like to correct:

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Unanswered Concerns about the Biomass Plant

I’m quoting myself here, responding to Brad Lofton’s letter of 19 Sepember 2010.

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From: “John S. Quarterman”
To: <blofton@industrialauthority.com>, Leigh Touchton
Cc: [VDT and several elected officials; list available upon request]
Subject: Re: Brad Lofton, Executive Director Industrial Authority, doesn’t want his correpondence in the Valdosta Daily Times
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 2010 14:08:17 -0400

Brad Lofton,

Leigh Touchton has forwarded me copies of the correspondence between you on behalf of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA) with her and the VDT.

I must say I don’t agree with your assertion that:

“The vast majority of her concerns for our project would have been answered two years ago if she had come to any of our forums…”
Here are some examples of unanswered concerns.

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“I’m amazed at how someone could dare say…”

Brad Lofton responds to Leigh Touchton’s letter of 16 September 2010.

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Date: Sun, Sep 19, 2010 at 7:54 AM
From: Brad Lofton <blofton@industrialauthority.com>

Good morning Kay, Sandy et al.

Our unprecedented effort of educating the public included numerous public hearings, briefings with all elected officials, the VDT Editorial Board and groups all across Valdosta. We’ve even spent a great deal of effort trying to brief the NAACP leaving messages and making numerous phone calls to Leigh Touchton that have never been returned. We’ve spent more time educating the community on this project then the sum of any other projects we’ve worked combined. I’m amazed at how someone could dare say that we’ve not informed the public. The vast majority of her concerns for our project would have been answered two years ago if she had come to any of our forums or if she would at least answer her phone when we call. Now that we’re moving into the third year of due diligence, she’s concerned all of a sudden.

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Leigh Touchton wonders what Brad Lofton is hiding

This message was sent to me by the author, who requested I blog it.

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Subject: My response to Brad Lofton, why doesn’t he want his correpondence in the Valdosta Daily Times? What is he hiding?
From: Leigh Touchton
To: blofton@industrialauthority.com
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 2010 20:53:56 EDT

(Please see correspondence below mine which I am responding to: Mr. Brad Lofton’s email to his “stakeholders” which he doesn’t want to put in the newspaper )

Mr. Lofton:

My title is President of the Valdosta-Lowndes branch of the NAACP, I am not the Chairperson. I have a Master’s in Science in Biology from the University of Virginia, I have taught Environmental Science classes at the college level. It is incorrect and furthermore rude for you to refer to the President of the NAACP as part of the “misinformation on the street.”

I would be happy to deconstruct your arguments on the trip to Cadillac, Michigan, and how “green” Biomass Incineration can be. I invite readers to research all the Biomass incinerators around the country that have been shut down. They are banned in Massachusetts. They have been blocked in Florida. They show up in areas of the country where wealthy industrialists control the government and environmental regulations are lax. All the major environmental organizations in this country oppose them because they burn more wood that can be sustainably harvested. In the decade that is the hottest on record, in a crucial period in human history when life literally hangs in the balance over Global Climate Change, the Lowndes County Industrial Authority has decided to implement a Biomass Incinerator which spews more carbon dioxide than a coal plant.

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LTE: Biomass is Environmental Racism

This is a letter to the editor that appeared in the VDT on about 17 August 2010.

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When Wiregrass Power chose the site for their Biomass plant, they put it near one of Valdosta’s most affluent black communities. There are at least six black churches:¬† New Life Ministries, Morning Star, Evangel Temple, Southside Church of Christ, Church of Prophecy, Church at Pine Hill. Two predominantly black elementary schools are in the area: Southeast and Moulton Branch. A large senior citizen assisted living community, Sands Horizon, is located in the affected area and serves over 60 families.¬†Scott Park, where the Sands Horizon residents enjoy outings and the local children enjoy baseball games, is located nearby. Huge apartment complexes with several buildings, Park Chase and Brittany Woods, whose residents are primarily people of color, are located near the proposed site.
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