Burn, baby, burn!

Premier Gordon Campbell says the province's new bioenergy strategy will "stimulate investment and economic diversification while producing clean energy." But that strategy could face opposition from the international environmental movement. The Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance has circulated a draft position statement on biomass power stating, "no combustion technologies should be subsidized with public money or defined as 'clean,' 'renewable,' or 'green' energy. Combustion of organic or other materials damages the soil, intesifies the climate crisis, and causes harmful emissions. Combustions is not the 'highest and best use' of natural resources.' The following is a complete copy of that statement, which was obtained by Public Eye.

GAIA Biomass / Energy Policy Working Group
Draft Position Statement
March 20th, 2003
[Revised March 6, 2008]

1) GAIA recognizes that waste and energy are intimately connected.
2) GAIA opposes the burning of solid "biomass" feedstocks for electricity production or waste disposal.* We accept and understand the burning of crop and tree-based biomass for reasons of survival, cooking and heating at the domestic level, in the absence of the availability of a clean and safe supply of renewable energy.
3) GAIA believes that no combustion technologies should be subsidized with public money or defined as "clean," "renewable," or "green" energy. Combustion of organic or other materials damages the soil, intensifies the climate crisis, and causes harmful emissions. Combustion is not the "highest and best use" of natural resources.
4) GAIA supports a zero-emission energy policy that adheres to the principles of a just transition**. This clean energy production policy should rely primarily on conservation, efficiency, wind, solar and ocean-based technologies. In addition to opposing "biomass" incineration, GAIA finds nuclear power, fossil fuels, and large hydroelectric power
inappropriate due to their waste, pollution and other environmental impacts.
5) GAIA believes that organic materials should not be landfilled.*** For such landfills that already exist and which produce landfill gas, GAIA believes - as an interim measure until gas production ends - that the gas ought to be captured to the maximum extent possible, without seeking to increase methane generation. Toxic contaminants in the gas ought to be filtered out into a solid medium without subsequently incinerating those contaminants.
6) GAIA recognizes that anaerobic digestion may be a desirable waste management option for certain organic waste streams (such as sewage sludge, animal waste and food waste), but expresses caution with regard to possible contaminants which may migrate into digester gas, necessitating filtering similar to that needed for landfill gas.
7) GAIA opposes the production of transportation or heating fuels from contaminated waste streams. Where possible, all needed uses of burnable fuels should be replaced with non-burn technologies, such as electric cars powered with clean electricity, or industrial processes powered by concentrated solar power. GAIA especially opposes wastebased fuels, including production of ethanol from trash and sewage sludge, or production of diesel fuel from coal, tires or plastics. Until cleaner fuels are widely available, GAIA accepts the use of methane from anaerobic digesters and from landfill gas that is appropriately filtered.

*Solid biomass feedstocks have been defined by various governmental and non-governmental bodies as including municipal solid waste, tires, sewage sludge, construction/demolition wood wastes, animal wastes, paper and lumber mill wood wastes, other wood wastes (including pallets, crates and dunnage), agricultural crop residue, commercial energy crops (crops and trees grown with the intention of cutting and burning them), trees cut from forests and more. Gas-based biomass fuels include landfill gas and gas from the anaerobic digestion of organic wastes.

** The principles of the Just Transition Alliance can be found at: http://www.jtalliance.org/docs/principles.html

*** In the case of sewage sludge or other organic waste streams which are contaminated with toxic chemicals which cannot be removed, GAIA supports digesting or composting such waste and subsequently monofilling the waste, rather than allowing such waste to be dumped on farm fields as fertilizer or used in some other inappropriate way. We feel that it is a pressing priority to develop healthier strategies to deal with sewage sludge.

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