Sunday, January 15, 2017

e-mail to and endorsing organizations

I sent the following e-mail to, and am copying your organization because you have endorsed the 100% RE vision.
I, too, am a supporter of clean renewable energy, but not of the Oxford County Plan, as explained below, and on my blog.
If your organization has not had occasion to examine the issue of wood smoke pollution, I would encourage you to do so.
May we all have cleaner air to  breathe!

Your website has recently come to my attention.
As a resident of Oxford County and a clean air activist/blogger, I would like to point out some serious flaws in Oxford's draft plan, which is available here:
The major problem is that the report condones "wood" and "biomass" as acceptable "renewables" (Chapter 1, Background) and as "targets" (2.1)
Burning wood is a way of life in Oxford County. As the area is largely rural/agricultural, wood stoves and outdoor wood boilers are common, as is open air burning in backyard fire pits (the latter being the issue that pushed me into being a clean air activist).  The county charges $2.00 for every bag of garbage picked up, so probably a lot of trash gets burned, too.
The report also perpetuates the fallacy that burning biomass is "carbon neutral" (8.1.4).
A second problem is that there is no plan to measure carbon or any other greenhouse gas emissions, nor is there a commitment to reduce emissions.
There isn't a single provincial air quality monitoring station in the county, which means that current wood smoke (and other) pollution is undocumented, and there is no historical data.
There appears to be no plan even to take inventory of existing carbon emitters (all those back road wood stoves and boilers).
What the county DOES propose to measure is its progression towards the 100% renewable target.  Since wood and biomass are defined as renewables, having homes change from natural gas heating to wood stoves would presumably be seen as progress in the right direction.  (!)

Many people have positive and sentimental associations with fireplaces and campfires, which may help explain why wood smoke pollution seems to fly below the radar.  Given that smoke from wood and other biomass combustion has now been shown to be worse than that produced by all fossil fuels (including coal), should you not make that fact clear on your website?   Your intention is to advocate for CLEAN renewables, so perhaps a detailed list of these would be helpful.  
You may wish to reconsider using Oxford County's plan - in its present form - as an example.

If anyone in your organization is in need of a primer on wood smoke, I recommend this website from Doctors and Scientists Against Wood Smoke Pollution:

There are links to many more wood smoke-related websites listed on my blog:
The posts dated Aug. 13 & 16, 2016 relate to Oxford County's Plan.

I would love to be in the front lines of those cheering for clean renewable energy; but it's impossible to cheer when one is choking on wood smoke.

Thanks for your attention to this; I will be sending copies of this e-mail to your "Endorsing Organizations", in the hope of raising awareness and generating more discussion on the topic of wood smoke pollution.

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