Forests Not Fuel - Statement to the Press, Mar 25, 2015

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Good morning, I am Haywood Martin, Chair of Sierra Club in Louisiana. I am here because I am concerned about destruction of native forests in the southeast and in Louisiana.

Misdirected renewable energy policies both here in the US and in Europe treat biomass, including the burning of trees, as renewable energy just like solar and wind. With billions of dollars of government subsidies available, major European utility companies have been converting coal burning power plants to wood, even though there is mounting scientific evidence that burning trees for electricity releases more carbon into the atmosphere than burning coal. In a rush to find much-needed alternatives to fossil fuels, any evidence that burning wood might not make economic sense and that it is destroying forests, has been largely ignored.

Europe is currently at the forefront of this rush to burn. They are running power plants previously fueled with coal by importing large quantities of wood from the US. This has led to an explosion of new facilities here in the South that are turning our forests into wood pellets and exporting them across the Atlantic. Currently, the Southern US is the world’s largest exporter of wood pellets. Wood pellet exports to Europe from the South are in the millions of tons per year and are increasing as new facilities come on line. We’ve seen aggressive logging in native forests in NC and Virginia, and we want to make sure this doesn’t happen here in Louisiana.

Public Hearing on Toxic Waste Transfer Station

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Despite St. Martin Parish Council’s recent rejection of a rezoning request from F.A.S. Environmental Services the company is applying for a permit to build a transfer station for produced waters and fracking waste in the Atchafalaya Basin. According to the company’s permit application with DNR, F.A.S. expects to handle an average of 175,000 barrels of exploration and production (E&P) waste each month. The company estimates 99 percent will be “produced water” or waste from processes ranging from conventional drilling to hydraulic fracturing. If approved, the permit also would allow the company “to accept other types of waste, such as completion fluids, freshwater, rainwater, washout water, washout pit water, gas plant water liquids, pipeline wastewater and commercial facility waste.” The application also states that the waste can include or create hydrogen sulfide gas which is poisonous and is known for its rotten egg smell. The company operates an injection well 1.75 miles from the proposed transfer station.

The Green Army Legislative Scorecard

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The GreenARMY is a state-wide coalition of organizations, civic groups, and individuals fighting to preserve Louisiana’s culture and environment. The coalition has environmental campaigns that fall under the umbrella of clean air, clean water, clean land, and healthy food. Sierra Club in Louisiana is an active participant in Green Army efforts to direct the attention of state government and industry to environmental problems and the negative impacts to our communities caused by poorly regulated industrial operations.

The Legislative Scorecard has been developed in an effort to let the public know how State Representatives and Senators voted in the 2014 legislative session. The Scorecard provides a rating which compares their environmental voting records. The selected bills and amendments represent a wide range of environmental issues in Louisiana.

We suggest you congratulate your Representatives and Senators who scored highly, and let the others know that you expect them to do better.

Click this link to go to the Green Army Legislative Scorecard

Louisiana and Mississippi Forests Being Razed to Make Electricity in Europe

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Traveling highway I-10 over the Mississippi River at Baton Rouge may have noticed two huge white golf ball looking structures at Port Allen, just to the north on the west side of the river crossing. While they do add something to the drab industrial view of refineries, cranes and barges, they foretell a bleak future for southeastern forests. The structures will store up to 80,000 metric tons of wood pellets manufactured by Drax Biomass that will come from Louisiana and Mississippi harvested forests. The wood pellets are destined to be shipped to Europe for burning for generation of electricity. It is eerily appropriate that the company name is the same as Drax the Destroyer, a fictional superhero character appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics.

Bad Projects Never Die – The Washington Parish Reservoir

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US Army Corps of Engineers has received an application for a 404 permit to dam up Bogue Lusa Creek approximately 5.8 miles south of the city of Sheridan and conduct mechanized land clearing for the creation of an approximately 3,262 acre reservoir in Washington Parish, Louisiana. The applicant’s stated project purpose is to provide water, recharge aquifers and provide recreation areas and economic development opportunities… The impoundment would produce a long, thin, five finger lake 5.5 miles long and up to 3,000 ft wide.

Can Coastal Communities Survive?

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The New Orleans Group of the Sierra Club will host Dr. Shirley Laska from University of New Orleans on Sunday, January 11, 2015 for her presentation: "Gulf coastal communities: Can they survive until coastal restoration is a reality?"

Major Victory Against RAM Coal Export Terminal

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Louisiana community leaders and environmental organizations won a major victory against a proposed coal export terminal when a Plaquemines Parish district court revoked a Coastal Use Permit granted by Louisiana Department of Natural Resources. Parish residents have been fighting coal shipping terminals for years.

The lawsuit was brought by residents of the Ironton community and Sierra Club Delta Chapter, Gulf Restoration Network and Louisiana Environmental Action Network against the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for illegally granting a coastal use permit to RAM Terminals, LLC to build a coal export terminal in Plaquemines Parish. This victory spares residents from the air and water pollution, property-value loss and coal-train traffic that the coal shipping facility would bring.

Another Louisiana Scenic River Saved From The Frackers

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Sierra Club has been notified that Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has denied a request from Comstock Resources to withdraw 12,600,000 gallons of water from the Amite River in East Feliciana Parish for use in fracking for oil and gas. The water would have been withdrawn from the Scenic River, used for fracking and then disposed as hazardous waste.

Forest Wright Statement to Supporters of his Campaign for Louisiana Public Service Commission District 1

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In the past, Public Service Commission races have generated little to no interest... until now.

Because of you, this was one of the most followed and hotly contested races in Louisiana this year. Election night results had us separated by a slim margin, just 50.85% to 49.15%. This was an astounding achievement against a heavily favored incumbent spending nearly unlimited campaign cash and heavily backed by utilities companies and a political machine desperately clinging to the status quo.

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