At 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 3rd, a diverse coalition of community groups and impacted people will assemble outside Springfield City Hall to demand that officials at city and state levels protect the health of the community by opposing the biomass incinerator proposed for East Springfield.
They will voice concerns that living near the proposed polluting incinerator will bring higher risk for asthma, heart disease, and cancer and that biomass incinerators emit more CO2 than burning fossil fuels. A typical biomass burning power plant emits 150% the CO2 of a coal plant, and 300-400% the CO2 of a natural gas plant, per unit of energy produced.
Speakers include Springfield City Councilor Jesse Lederman, and representatives from Arise for Social Justice, Neighbor to Neighbor, Sunrise Western Mass, the faith community, Springfield Climate Justice Coalition and Public Health Institute of Western MA.
This action is part of strong, united opposition to extending the expired city permit for the biomass incinerator as well as a demand to delete proposed language in the 2050 Climate Roadmap Bill (H. 4993, Section 15) that promotes biomass energy as a “non-carbon emitting” energy source for a new greenhouse gas emission standard for municipal light plants.
Thursday’s action reinforces a letter sent by the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition to the Western Massachusetts delegation of state legislators explaining how this provision would pave the way for the polluting Palmer biomass plant to be built and urging them to keep this provision out of the final climate bill that comes out of conference committee: http://www.pfpi.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/SCJC-LETTER-TO-SPRINGFIELD-DELEGATION-8.13.20.pdf
This is an environmental justice issue. The biomass incinerator proposed by Palmer Renewable Energy (PRE) is a 35-megawatt wood-burning power plant that would have devastating effects on a population with some of the highest rates of respiratory illness in the nation. https://community.aafa.org/blog/springfield-massachusetts-why-it-s-the-1-asthma-capital
Communities within two miles of the proposed biomass incinerator meet the state’s definition of environmental justice populations based on income, race, and language isolation. Burning biomass emits pollutants and particulates which will increase the risk of complications and death from COVID-19 for people already at high risk. If the Palmer biomass power plant becomes eligible for renewable energy subsidies or other incentives and the incinerator is built, Springfield will become a sacrifice zone to produce power for wealthier communities elsewhere in the state.
Thursday’s action at 4:30 p.m. on the steps of Springfield City Hall will follow social distancing guidelines. Participants must wear masks and stay six feet apart. People are urged to contact their state legislators and to sign the petition to the Massachusetts Legislature at https://www.change.org/p/state-senator-michael-barrett-tell-the-massachusetts-legislature-don-t-subsidize-pollution-in-springfield
Verne McArthur, Springfield Climate Justice Coalition firstname.lastname@example.org,
Sy’air Bey, Environmental Justice Organizer, ARISE for Social Justice, 413-734-4948
Laura Haight, PFPI, US Policy Director, email@example.com, 518-949-1797