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Biomass Moratorium debated by groups

A proposed moratorium by the Save Our Rural Oregon group on biomass and biofuels projects under consideration in both Lake and Klamath counties cited concerns of exacerbated air quality issues is the projects were to go through.

In his news release issued earlier this month, SORO Pres. Paul Fouch said that an emergency moratorium is necessary in light of ongoing air quality problems faced by both counties this winter.

“If they were already built, biomass projects proposed for both Klamath Falls and Lakeview would not only have made the air quality situation much worse but under anticipated sanctions placed upon us by EPA and DEQ starting in 2014, the biomass facilities would be exempt from shutting down and allowed to continue to burn while we citizens would be fined for heating our own homes,” he said.

Biomass energy facilities are planned for both Lakeview and Klamath Falls, though Iberdrola Renewables tabled the Lakeview project due to a lack of a utility company power purchase agreement.

In the SORO release, Fouch raises concerns of such a facility adding to Lakeview’s air quality issue, citing extended periods of stagnant air days in January in which concentrations of particulate matter measuring 2.5 microns per cubic meter (PM 2.5) exceeded the national standard average of 35 micrograms per cubic meter by a high margin.

SORO is currently involved in a contested hearing regarding siting of the Klamath Bio Energy facility in Klamath Falls, with the Oregon Energy Facilities Siting Council making the final call on the plant’s location.

According to the SORO press release, Iberdrola Renewables has projects underway in both Lakeview and Klamath Falls.

The economically depressed status of both communities, along with concerns of public health issues, are the foremost principals of concerns of SORO regarding these biomass plant facilities, Fouch said in the SORO release.

“We understand the position of our Congressional delegation and local elected leaders, that biomass may promote economic revival through the forest jobs that these projects represent,” Fouch said. “However, EPA and DEQ have a responsibility to protect the health and well being of the citizens.”

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