Burning coal is deadly, burning wood pellets is criminal
Life is what happens between the first and the last breath. Breathing is not optional. Medical research shows the particulate matter (PM) damage to our health begins before we are born. Exposure to pollution during pregnancy may affect a child’s breathing and learning skills.
PM 2.5 increases mortality of Covid-19
Coronavirus patients living in areas with high levels of air pollution are more likely to die. Researchers at the Harvard University School of Public Health found that higher levels of fine particulate matter – the invisible particles in the air known as PM 2.5 – increase death rates from Covid-19.
Sources of PM 2.5
Unlike other major air pollutants – ground-level ozone, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide – particulate air pollution is defined by size rather than the chemicals it contains. PM, typically reported in micrograms per cubic meter – the smaller these particulates are, the more damage they can wreak on the human body. Which is why they’re regulated in the United States by the Clean Air Act.
PM 2.5 comes primarily from combustion. Fireplaces, vehicles, and coal or natural gas power plants are all major PM 2.5 sources. Some states require yearly emissions inspections, but Arkansas is more concerned with zero-emission electric vehicles, with a $200 annual registration fee.
The UK Drax Group doubles down on deforestation, production and transportation of wood pellets in Arkansas, pretending to save the planet. If pellet mills are environmentally sound, good for the forests, economic drivers, and centers of job creation, why is Drax not using UK forests?
If you look at their website, Drax.com, you will be amazed at their sustainability ambitions, their plans for the Glasgow UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26), a climate partnership with the United States, and cartoons showing Drax’ decarbonization progress.
Here are the facts: Wood pellet mills release large amounts of harmful air pollutants including PM 2.5, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, greenhouse gases, acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, and methanol. Breathing the pollutants emitted from wood pellet plants can trigger many health problems for children, the elderly, and people with respiratory diseases.
Wood pellet mills create PM 2.5 emissions
Last July, the Mendocino, Calif., community demanded the Calpella wood pellet plant close during the Covid-19 pandemic. The petition said although the mill finally, after several modifications, meets the official air quality requirements, community members in the Calpella area are concerned for their health as Covid-19 is spiking in Mendocino.
Meeting air quality standards is not enough. Air pollution from 40-ton diesel logging trucks destroying the roads, for example, are not included.
EPA Air Quality standards were “rolled back” before the pandemic and then dismissed to deal with the economic crisis. In March 2020, the EPA gave an open license to pollute during the pandemic.
Drax plans to build three new Arkansas wood pellet mills
The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) recently granted Drax three major source Title V air permits, giving Drax the right to build the mills:
Arkansas BioEnergy Russellville, LLC – Permit No. 2421-AOP-R0
Arkansas BioEnergy Bearden, LLC – Permit Number: 2422-AOP-R0
Arkansas BioEnergy Leola, LLC – Permit Number: 2420-AOP-R0
How did we get to this point?
Arkansas has very lax environmental protection rules. To build a pellet mill, for a nominal fee you can hire a company to incorporate an entity with whatever name you want so you can claim to be an Arkansas business “in good standing.” Then, you can apply for an air quality permit with emissions specifications, and ADEQ will review the application to see if it meets EPA regulations, before the mill is built. ADEQ is not responsible for the type of product you want to make or anything outside the mill.
Now Drax is in Arkansas with a fictitious name and a permit to pollute the air, ignoring the pandemic.
Michael Regan, our new Secretary of EPA, is not like the coal lobbyist who was in charge. Regan is the real deal, who had to use an inhaler growing up in North Carolina.
Dr. Luis Contreras