2010 June 11: WI Rothschild: “maximum achievable combustion practices.” not required yet. Column: A letter to Rothschild board

2010 June 11: WI Rothschild: "maximum achievable combustion practices." not required yet.  Column: A letter to Rothschild board

June 11, 2010

Dear Village of Rothschild Board member,

I would like to request that you look into the proposed biomass project, and request an Environmental Impact Statement. As you know, the comment period closes on June 15. Rothschild Village President Neal Torney recently told me that the village board has not met with We Energies and Domtar about this project. He said he has had many meetings with them about it.

I told Torney that the entire Village Board should be involved in the meetings, since our village is a democracy, not a dictatorship, and the decisions about the project should be made by the board.

Medical experts are opposed to biomass power plants. The New England Journal of Medicine says, "Biomass power plants pose an unacceptable risk to the public’s health." The American Lung Association is opposed to biomass power plants because of the damage biomass does to the lungs of children. The Environmental Protection Agency states that particulate matter pollution does serious harm to the lungs of children and the elderly. Yet our Village Board has not met with We Energies and Domtar?

The new pollution level will put our area at 99 percent of what is safe, according to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Furthermore, through DNR loopholes, not all sources of pollution are included in the total.

In addition, We Energies/Domtar wants you to think the air will be 30 percent cleaner. However, the total pollution from the plant will actually increase. Current emissions are 148,663 tons a year. New Emissions are 590,457 tons per year. All the numbers are from We Energies and Domtar.

The DNR will tell you that the 11 sources of pollution they are watching in our area are all under the NAAQS standards for air pollution. The problem is, we need a cumulative look at the local air pollution. According to the DNR, the village of Rothschild is fifth in the state for particulate matter levels. After the new biomass plant is built, where will our area be?

Did you know that We Energies/Domtar will use pollution controls called "good combustion practices?" This is not the best pollution control technology. The best is called "maximum achievable combustion practices." It costs more, but since Domtar will save $8 million a year in energy costs, and We Energies will get $76 million from our federal government, I feel they should spend more on pollution controls for the safety of the community.

As elected Village Board members, I hope you will uphold the portion of our village ordinances that state "any industrial expansion will be thoroughly examined to prevent a negative impact on the community." With the increased biomass truck traffic, the new 250-foot-tall smoke stack, and the 20-foot tall cement wall they will place near some residential homes, I hope you will thoroughly examine the "negative impacts" of this project on our neighborhoods.

I am not opposed to Domtar. I am opposed to hurting children, which the experts specifically state particulate matter will do. Lastly, since the Environmental Impact Statement will not cost our village money, requesting one to get a thorough analysis of the impacts is the right thing to do, and it is free for our village.

Rob Hughes is a reader from Rothschild. He is a member of Saving Our Air Resource

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