Letter: It's time for biomass
It’s time for biomass
I congratulate Tim Blagg, Editor of The Recorder for his recent “Missed Opportunity – A Different Take on Biomass Plant Plan” for his common sense perspective. He was right on with his view that, “The stake in the plant’s heart, though, came from the state.”
The question here had to do with the phrase “carbon neutral.” The issue of carbon neutrality for wood is not a science question — it’s a policy determination, depending on the time frame being looked at and whether you look at just a particular forest stand being thinned or the entire forest ecosystem.
Over the long term, biomass for energy is a great thing, which will improve the forests and help keep them as forests, rather than the owners selling to developers.
The consensus now in the forestry community is that thermal or cogeneration with biomass is the way to go — since both are far more efficient than biomass for just electricity.
A secondary benefit of biomass harvesting is that it will help farmers expand their land under production. Many people in the western part of the state would like to see more “locally grown” agriculture. It’s very expensive for farmers to clear land but with a biomass market the clearing would be profitable.
There is also a movement in this state to produce “locally grown wood” — rather than the current situation where wood is imported from thousands of miles away. If we want locally grown wood and food, we’ll need to get the land producing again, and for that to happen, we need a market for low value wood and the only market is for energy.
The rural economies of western Massachusetts will benefit from locally grown wood and food. The new high school to be built in Greenfield should include a biomass burner, like many schools in New England.
It’s far smarter to burn local wood than oil from the Middle East.
The Wiley-Russell Dam
I read with great interest the article in Thursday’s Recorder (Aug. 8) that a number of well-meaning agencies are moving ahead with plans to remove the Wiley-Russell Dam on Mead Street. The dam was built by a forerunner of the Russell Cutlery Co., which brought my great-grandfather Johannes Haigis, (now resting in Green River Cemetery above) from Germany and which began a tradition of skilled artisans and precision machinists so important to the development of our area.
This may be an opportunity, and there may be a better alternative — to keep an important educational, historical and economic asset. The fact is heritage tourism is one of the world’s largest emerging growth industries.
Ten years ago, the Museum of Our Industrial Heritage was still a dream but it is a dream that is now happening. It will cost $150,000 to remove the dam and another $150,000 to stabilize the bank if the dam is removed.
Why not stabilize the dam (if needed)? Simply leaving the dam in place may be a better and more cost-effective option. It was already decided not to remove the companion Mill Street Dam because it would cost more and cause more headaches than letting it stay in place while fish ladders will be added to three existing dams.
Why is that not true for this dam as well?
According to the article, the town could argue to reduce the hazard level. Investment in the embodied energy of the past may be one of the best investments in its future that Greenfield could make. It is not yet too late to do the right thing.
JOHN W. HAIGIS