Good turnout for today’s oil spill response workshop in Port Townsend. Lots of great information, and the ability to chat with representatives of the Coast Guard, and the Oil Spill Team Section, gave a good understanding of what are the processes, and what gaps exist in our ability to handle a spill, large or small, here in the area.
Yesterday, I received the following email from a long time friend and environmental activist, Fayette Krause. I am enclosing it with my thoughts, many of which mirror Fayette’s. Fayette’s letter spurred me to finish writing down my thoughts on the proposed Charter County proposals, as the county Democrats are going to hold an endorsement meeting on Sept 17th. I believe the Charter proponents are well intentioned, but ultimately proposing a fundamental change to the County structure that will not benefit the County, and in fact, may bring more problems. Here’s why.
I plan to vote “No” on the Charter for the following reasons. These are somewhat different and re-prioritized from Fayette’s.
1. This does not fix the root causes. It goes after the symptoms.
1A. Is the root cause of putting forward a Charter County a disconnect between the majority of voters and the elected officials? Jefferson County already has the highest percentage voter turnout in the State. We have elected both conservatives and progressives over the last couple of decades. The problem does not seem to be voter apathy to issues, or some kind of disconnect between the electorate and the County officials. Our county allows citizens to vote out incumbents and choose a candidate that more closely allies with our ideas/ideals. For progressives, the current County Commission has generally been very responsive, and was elected as a reaction to a previous more conservative group of Commissioners who approved such ill-conceived developments as the Pit To Pier project, which was ultimately was brought down by economics, and changes at a State level. On another issue, our current Commissioners spent a large amount of time to research and discuss the Shoreline Master Program and Critical Areas Ordinance for example. I don’t think that any of the progressives now supporting the Charter would argue that our elected officials’ stance on those were wrong. They have supported protection of special places, such as Dabob Bay. They have fought net-pens in our county, offering options to their deployment that the State refused to accept. They have supported numerous other progressive measures.
If the root cause is a lack of enough commissioners to guarantee more representation, the Charter does not necessarily accomplish that. Adding more Commissioners does not mean that things will be more representative. San Juan County voted in a Charter County, with 6 commissioners and found that it was too expensive and didn’t guarantee any better representation of the citizens, so they returned to 3 after great expense to the county.
1B. Is the root cause a lack of a initiative process to stop state mandated issues like net-pens?
The charter and initiative process, on a county basis, will not likely stop net-pens. I have heard it stated by the Charter County advocates that we can create an initiative to ban net-pens. I don’t see any legal basis for a local initiative to succeed at that. The root cause for the requirement for net pens is at the State level, not county. State DOE holds the authority to allow net pens on aquatic lands, and allows the counties to help write the rules to those lands, both for getting local input and saving the state money. DOE and the State reserve the right to undo any proposals, like these that they see fit. The only way I see to implement a ban on net pens in the State waters, is to implement a state wide initiative, and I believe that the charter advocates that want a net pen ban should take that route, rather than overhaul our county rules to achieve a goal that likely will do nothing to solve the problem.
2. I have no guarantee that the Freeholders that get elected are going to craft a better governance document!
The freeholder election has numerous very conservative candidates running for Freeholder positions. Should a majority of these candidates win, there is no telling where they may take the Charter. The law of unintended consequences looks to be very likely to happen if we don’t elect the slate that we want.
3. This is going to cost the county more money, not less.
We currently can’t afford to take care of our county parks, yet well meaning people want the county to spend money on the Charter. Even with a minor amount of change we will pay to implement that change.
Initiative challenges will cost us more money. This is not a revenue neutral proposal. (see below).
4. The Initiative process does not guarantee beneficial results.
While originally well intentioned, Tim Eyman’s manipulation of the initiative process has shown us that just because you create and vote to approve one, it will not necessarily get you the outcomes you expect. Much of our State Ferry rate increases that we have lived under here in Jefferson County, and affect us the most, were begun in the wake of Eyman’s I-695 initiative and it’s outcome on State highway revenues. (while it was declared unconstitutional it’s goals were implemented by elected officials afraid of opposing Eyman).
There is a belief that County initiatives supersede State and Federal law. I have seen nothing that makes me believe that, and would like to see backers support that contention. I see an outcome where local initiatives are challenged by the very corporations that you want to keep out, and cost the county money to challenge in court.
Standard variety initiatives will be challenged by those who lose, which has been the case with Eyman’s initiatives at the State level. Out of Eyman’s 19 initiatives and one referendum 12 failed or were voted out and 5 have been ruled unconstitutional! Many have been ruled unconstitutional after costly legal challenges. The cost to the State in challenges has never had a dollar figure placed on it. We in this small county cannot afford to spend money on court challenges like this, when we can’t even fund our existing county needs.
5. This idea has not had an appropriate amount of time for debating the issue.
For all these reasons, I hope that friends who are members of the Jefferson County Democrats can attend and vote no in this upcoming meeting. The meeting takes place at 7PM on Sept 17th. I hope all of you will vote no on Charter County at the upcoming election.
Al B. – Editor
From: Fayette Krause
Date: Sat, Sep 7, 2013 at 5:38 PM
Subject: Where are you?
Regarding the proposed Charter? I am contacting some Demos that I know re the special endorsement mtg on Sept. 17 at the Community Ctr in P.T. I plan to vote “No” on the Charter for several reasons:
1. The Freeholder election has numerous very conservative candidates running for the Freeholder positions. Should a majority of these candidates win, there is no telling where they may take the Charter.
2. The Charter idea is rushed and will lack a reasonable time frame for debate. Further, it is complicated and difficult to distill to a few soundbites — something we should avoid anyway.
3. Our state has seen where the Initiative has taken us recently. Originally this idea was a highly progressive instrument, designed to circumvent corporate-controlled state legislatures. It can still be used this way by progressives, but the Tim Eyman’s of Washington have also learned how to use this legislation effectively, to the detriment of state government.
4. What’s broken here? If there is a problem with county governance, we can vote out the incumbents and choose a candidate that more closely allies with our ideas/ideals. For progressives, the current County Commission has generally been very responsive, opposing ill-conceived developments, supporting protection for special places like Dabob Bay, fighting net-pens in the Straits and Hood Canal, and generally supporting other progressive measures.
5. There is a dollar cost to the County, for running the election, and an unknown and unpredictable cost should our current system be changed by adopting a Charter. The price tag could be relatively low, but any change is likely to require some additional costs.
These are only a few of the reasons that I am uncomfortable with the Charter idea, despite the fact that a number of progressive and very well-meaning people support it. While commending them for their work in raising the issue, I cannot support the Charter idea.
The endorsement vote will be taken at the 7:00 mtg on Sept. 17. Only members of the JeffCo Demo Party can vote, and the requirement for either a negative or positive endorsement is 2/3 of the voters, plus one. Consequently, it is important to have a large and informed turn-out.
I hope you can attend.
This is extremely good news to a start on finding out what kinds of pollution we are breathing and if the new biomass plants are actually doing something that needs cleaning up. That is, if they are built, which seems not a sure thing at this point in time, due to economics, not environmental concerns, unfortunately.
The Olympic Clean Air Agency and the University of Washington propose to jointly study air quality in Jefferson and Clallam Counties. This project will evaluate possible air quality changes associated with new biomass co-generation facilities in Port Townsend and Port Angeles and changes in ultra-fine particle concentrations associated with both facilities. The project will support state of the art measurements of ultra-fine particles and will respond directly to concerns of the two communities around health effects and industrial development.
Concerns regarding greenhouse gas emissions and climate change have encouraged the development of biomass fueled power stations, i.e. biomass cogeneration plants. The biomass fuel varies for each region and can include sugar-cane stalk, corn and rice straw, and palm and woody debris to name a few. This form of power generation is controversial within the “green” community. Proponents claim that burning biomass contributes a net zero addition to atmospheric carbon dioxide compared to fossil fuel combustion [Taylor, 2010]. The carbon released during biomass combustion will be re-used in plant material for the next cycle of energy generation, while fossil fuels represent carbon that has been stored for millennia. Since new co-generation plants are required to use Best Available Control Technology (BACT) to prevent degradation of air quality, supporters further argue that burning biomatter in the plant is cleaner than slash burning outdoors and actually helps improve air quality. Furthermore, industry has been burning biomass waste for years without converting it to usable power, and therefore claim a net gain in power produced vs. carbon released [Taylor, 2010]. The US Department of Energy recognizes biomass co-generation plants as a renewable energy source and has awarded grants to finance their design and operation. (http://www.srs.gov/general/news/releases/nr12_doe-biomass-startup.pdf)
Opponents of biomass fueled co-generation are primarily concerned about subsequent environmental damage and the cleanliness of the technology. They claim that burning biomass will endanger forest land by increasing logging operations and argue that slash should be left to decompose on the forest floor. The primary concern regarding biomass fueled power centers on the release of harmful toxins and fine particulate that can negatively impact the health of residents living near the co-generation plants. Specifically, activists are concerned about ultrafine particles –diameters less than 100 nm – that are not detected by standard air monitoring instruments [Keywooda et al., 1999] and to which recent research ascribes significant health impacts [Keywooda et al., 1999; Morawska et al., 2004].
Recently two new biomass cogeneration plants were approved for installation on the Olympic Peninsula, one at Nippon Paper Industries in Port Angeles and the other at Port Townsend Paper Company in Port Townsend. Both mills have been burning woody biomass as waste for several decades. Construction of these co-generation plants requires installation of emission control technology predicted to decrease the total PM2.5 emitted, despite increasing the mass of fuel burned by a factor of three. PM2.5 is the mass concentration of atmospheric particles with diameters less than 2.5 microns. Other gaseous emissions such as Volatile Organic Compounds and NOx will roughly increase by 35 and 18 tons per year respectively. Despite these pollution controls, and maybe because of them, there is concern that although PM2.5 will decrease, the number of ultrafine particles, which may be more hazardous to respiratory and cardio health, will increase. Research has shown that when PM2.5 decreases, co-emitted gases like SO2 and NOx have less surface area on which to condense and are thus more likely to homogeneously nucleate ultrafine particles downwind of the emission site [Weber et al., 1997]. Despite these concerns, there is very little data that show the impact of biomass cogeneration plants on local and regional air quality, including PM2.5 and ultrafine particulate.
Port Angeles and Port Townsend are ideal locations to conduct a study focusing on the impacts of biomass fueled cogeneration facilities on air quality downwind of the cogeneration plants. Both towns have similar meteorology and environmental conditions. There are no other large industrial sources or major freeways to obscure ultrafine and fine particulate emissions from the biomass cogeneration plants, although emissions from residential burning in the winter constitute a large fraction of the observed PM2.5 in bothcities. Currently the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA) maintains a permanent air monitoring site for PM2.5 in both Port Angeles and Port Townsend. Data on background concentrations of PM2.5, SO2, NOx, CO, and ozone are also available from Cheeka Peak, an NCore site located west of Port Angeles on the northwestern tip of the peninsula and measuring some of the cleanest air in the country. In addition to the permanent monitors, ORCAA will also install four optical particle counters (OPC) that provide data on the number concentration of particles larger than 0.3 microns at three locations in Port Angeles and at one location in Sequim. The OPCs will operate between January 2013 and December 2013. These monitors will move to Port Townsend in 2014. In both Port Angeles and Port Townsend, one of the OPCs will be collocated with the permanent air monitor, a nephelometer. ORCAA also has two aethalometers that measure black carbon concentration and can be used to differentiate between wood combustion and diesel combustion. One aethalometer will be installed at the permanent monitoring location and the other will be installed along with an OPC at one of the other temporary sites. The existence of these monitoring locations creates an infrastructure that will facilitate a study of ultrafine particles and source types of air pollution in the region.
In addition to ambient monitoring that already occurs in Clallam and Jefferson Counties the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency, in collaboration with the University of Washington, proposes to conduct an additional study to examine the concentration, sources, and lifetimes of ultrafine particulate in Port Angeles and Port Townsend.
The scientific questions to be addressed are:
1) 2) 3)
4) 5) 6) 7)
For this project we will establish two master research sites on the Olympic Peninsula. One will be located near residential areas of Port Townsend and the Port Townsend Paper Corp. The second site will be in Port Angeles near to the Nippon Paper Industries facility. At each site we will ideally conduct a series of pre/post-expansion intensive measurements that can complement the existing measurements using nephelometers, optical particle counters, and aethalometers. The Nippon co-generation plant, located in Port Angeles, expects to begin operating in September or October, 2013 and therefore baseline, winter measurements of ultrafine particles before operations commence may not be possible. To work around this issue, meteorology and plume dispersion modeling will allow data to be segregated to times when emissions from Nippon could affect measurements at the site and those times when they would not.
How will air quality respond to the change in emissions from the facility?
What is the distribution of PM2.5 in residential areas of both communities?
Is there evidence of an increase in ultrafine particulate matter from the expanded facilities?
What is the cause of the odors in the Port Townsend area and what can be done about these?
What are the source contributions to fine and ultrafine particulate in these two areas?
How does this change between winter and summer?
Which neighborhoods are most impacted by these facilities? Are the concentrations
reasonably modeled by a Gaussian plume distribution?
How do ultrafine particulate emissions from the facilities change in the winter relative to the summer?
Measurements of PM2.5, number concentration and size distribution of ultrafine particles (diameter < 100 nanometers), particle chemical speciation, and carbon monoxide will be made at both the Port Angeles and the Port Townsend sites. Continuous stack emission measurements at the facilities will complement the ambient measurements to determine their potential influence on the ambient air quality.
A proposed schedule for this work is as follows:
Summer 2013: 6-week experiment prior to facility modifications and expansion
Winter 2013: 6-week experiment prior to facility modifications and expansion (Port Townsend) Summer 2014: 6-week experiment after facility modifications and expansion
Winter 2014: 6-week experiment after facility modifications and expansion
Instruments and measurements that will be made in addition to those already made by ORCAA:
What it measures
Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer (SMPS), TSI 3936
Ultrafine particle size distribution
Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (AMS)
Aerosol chemical composition
Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometer (CIMS)
Aerosol chemical composition
Dusttrak DRX 8543
Filed under: Air Pollution, Biomass Cogeneration, Clallam County, Government, Jefferson County, legislation, Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Projects | Tagged: air pollution, biomass, legislature, Port Angeles | 4 Comments »
Connie Gallant next Tuesday at 7 PM will present “Heroines of our Green Olympics,” a talk about Rosalie Edge, Polly Dyer and Bonnie Phillips– women who have made great contributions to the conservation of the Olympic Peninsula– and also give an update on current Olympic Peninsula environmental issues. She will talk at the Port Townsend Community Center; admission is free.
NEXT FRIDAY, Feb. 1: At exactly 12:30 PM in Port Townsend, Sound Experience will recognize the exact day a century ago that the historic schooner Adventuress “splashed” in E. Boothbay, Maine. You’re invited to come aboard for a "Flash Shanty" to sing the shanty "Paddy Lay Back" [ http://www.soundexp.org/uploads/Paddy%20Lay%20Back%20Lyrics.pdf ] filmed for YouTube– or to post your own singing of the shanty on YouTube. For more, visit Sound Experience, http://soundexp.org
Her’s will be big shoes to fill. Here’s her email to supporters:
The time has come for me to retire from the PTMSC. It has been a difficult decision to make, but I do so in a spirit of celebration, knowing the great things we have accomplished together. It has been a privilege and honor to work with you and the impassioned staff who helped build this place over the last 24 years. Your dedication and commitment has been a tremendous inspiration; it has kept me going.
I love the PTMSC and our work. As I said to staff when delivering this news this morning, we are fortunate to have jobs we believe in with a mission that will impact people and the place where we live long after we’re gone. Our work is about learning and sharing information with others so that we can do the hard work together – shifting behaviors toward changes that protect the Salish Sea.
As I look to the future, I think we’re in a good, stable position right now to handle this transition in leadership. After an intense reflection and assessment process over the last 18 months, we made a wise decision to invest in ourselves before taking on an expansion. We are a stronger organization as a result, with a clear shared focus. Staff is well-rooted in their areas of responsibility and is cultivating relationships that will help PTMSC stay strong.
I’m planning to stay with PTMSC until a replacement has been found. Linda Dacon, our stalwart board chair, has formed a search committee that will oversee recruitment and selection of the new executive director. We will keep you informed as to how you can participate in the process.
Although this is hard news to absorb, we have something to celebrate – a healthy organization and an ED who has earned her release papers! Please support our staff as this transition unfolds.
With tremendous gratitude,
The WA State Chapter of Sierra Club recently started Sludge Free WA, a working group to end the land spreading of toxic municipal and industrial sewage treatment plant wastes in WA and find safe alternatives for reuse of the waste. Currently, as across the nation, these toxic sludges are sprayed on forest and farm lands and sold to the general public as compost/fertilizer. These solids from the treatment facilities are "treated" for very few constituents, but not for pharmaceuticals, personal care products, prions, hospital wastes, and many, many other things that are flushed down the toilet or dumped into the mix by industry.
A film and power point presentation on this subject will be given in the evening in Port Townsend on February 12 at the Recreation Center.
In the meantime, a petition to President Obama on the White House site is up. The aim is to get 1000 signatures by January 25. We have over 800, so need more to reach the 1000 goal. Please follow the steps at the end of this message and sign this important petition.
Lisa Jackson will be replaced by a new EPA administrator. This is a golden opportunity for us to use the We The People Whitehouse Petition Web site to request that Obama work with the new EPA Administrator to ban the land application of sewage sludge.
Here are the sign on directions.
1. Click the URL at the below.
2. Click on Create an Account in green box (next to "sign in")
3. Enter info in blank fields – (email name zip)
4. Enter nonsense words below – you’ll get a message to wait for an email.
5. Wait a few minutes for the site to send you an email.
6. Open the new email and copy the URL address it provides and paste it into your web browser, hit enter, and you should see the original page you first saw only this time the "Sign the Petition" green box is enabled – just click it and you’re done.