. . . . . . . News, events, opinions and ideas for the Greylock region. Host: Bill Densmore. (email) Click HERE for documents, texts and additional information. The views here are those of Bill Densmore. This is not a professional journalism service.
Watch archived video here (23 mins.) and here. (5 mins)
UPDATED: Nov. 25, with clarification and reference to Tom Greenwood comment.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Public-owned forests will be under pressure from clear-cutting proponents, and little additional electricity will be generated compared to environmental and health risks, three panelists told a crowd of more than 50 people on Saturday during an information session at a church here about a proposed Pownal, Vt., biomass-to-electric generating station.
Rachel Smolker, who works for a British non-profit, BiofuelWatch.org, and lives near Burlington, Vt. (firstname.lastname@example.org / 802-482-2848.
Hillary Lister, of Athens, Maine, a library and movie-theater worker who lead that town's opposition to a wood-and-construction-waste burning biomass plant not far from Skowhegan. (email@example.com / 207-649-5980.
People proposing Pownal plant were involved in a plant in Maine, said Lister. She recited a litany of alleged emissions violations, threats to pull jobs, and fly ash from the plant given to nearby farms which had nails in it from the burning of construction debris. Lister termed the process "More like a snake oil sales... Dependent on subsidies." She asserted, based upon her experience in Maine: "They are going to do anything they can to get out of paying taxes."
Lister said small particulates from GenPower plant dangerous to lungs; ultimately Maine town banned construction-debris burning. She described fuel-pile fires, mishaps at Maine plants, says constuction debris burned, and a nearby school had to end outdoor recesses.
Smolker, in her comments, focused on U.S. and world policies which have driven support of biomass projects.
Matera focused in his comments on the effects of forest clear cutting, using photos set to music and showing before/after scenes of forest stands leveled. He alleged a pattern of illegal clear-cutting in Massachusetts' state-owned forests and said officials tend not to enforce rules until the media is brought into the picture. There are five wood-burning power plants proposed for Western Massachusetts, says Matera, and if they were all built he believes pressure to accelerate forest cutting would increase in order to supply them because their woodshed areas overlap. If there isn't enough forest-cut wood, said Matera, plans will want to switch to burning construction waste instead.
Matera says Massachusetts by law forbids wood cutting on six percent of state-owned lands -- vs. 20 percent in New York State.
Besides the speakers, audience members asked questions, and a Williams College economist, Prof. William Gentry (firstname.lastname@example.org / 802-823-5534) , who lives in Pownal, spoke briefly. The event was introduced and closed by Tom Greenwood, a property manager from New Ashford, Mass. (email@example.com / 413-458-8080).
Greenwood said the Bennington-Berkshire group was gathering information about the Pownal plant proposal but stated no formal position on it. (see comment below) A second group, Southern Vermont Against Biomass, maintains a Facebook page.
Beaver Wood Energy has posted their Section 248 filings to their website. You can download them here.
WILLAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Scott Kellogg, co-author of "Toolbox for Sustainable City Living," will speak Wednesday (Sept. 22) from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at The Log on Spring Street, in Williamstown. His talked is sponsored by Northern Berkshire Transition. The presentation is free and public. READ FULL STORY
Don Zasada and his wife Bridget are the farmers who run Caretaker Farm, in Williamstown, Mass. Two weeks ago, Don sent a remarkable email to the 261 families who comprise the membership of the community-supported agriculture farm in rural Berkshire County, Massachusetts. Last week Don wrote eloquently about how his son heeds the harvest call.
Williamstown, MA - On Sunday December 13 at 5 pm, a candlelight vigil will be held in support of commitments for meaningful action at the Copenhagen 15 Climate Summit. The vigil will take place on the steps of First Congregational Church in Williamstown and all are welcome to attend. Participants will stand in solemn solidarity with the citizens of those nations that will be first to face the challenge to their very survival posed by climate change. Organizers hope for a science-based international climate treaty in Copenhagen, and effective U.S. legislation to reduce atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide to 350 parts per million. Williams College students for climate justice will speak at the end of the vigil about their Climate Justice fast. All are invited to join in a pot luck supper at First Congregational Church at 5:30 pm.
For more information contact Lauren Stevens at 802-694-1727 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, is located at 906 Main Street (Rt. 2) in Williamstown, MA. The church is fully handicap accessible. Parking is available immediately behind the church off of Chapin Hall Drive. For more information contact the Church Office at 413-458-4273 or Office@firstchurchwilliamstown.org.
NORTH ADAMS, MA-Take Charge, an organization committed to making local homes more energy independent, hosts a community discussion with residents, public officials, and college professors Friday, December 4, from 10 a.m. to noon at the First Baptist Church on Eagle Street.
The public is encouraged to bring questions or concerns on climate change, grassroots initiatives, legislation, environmental policy or other environmental topics.
Take Charge is a partner of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition. Its work revolves around education, outreach, and action based in a community campaign made up of community members, colleges, schools, local government, businesses, and organizations. For information on the December 4 forum email Madeline at email@example.com or Jaimie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Adams, MA - The city of North Adams will hold the annual Christmas Tree Lighting / Visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus on Thursday, December 3 at 5:30 pm at Monument Square. The Drury Band, directed by Christopher Caproni will perform; vocalist Diane Maynard will sing seasonal carols. The feature of the approximately half-hour ceremony will be the lighting of the Christmas trees at Monument Square and next to city hall, followed by the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus. Goodie bags will be given to the first 500 children accompanied by an adult. For more information, phone the North Adams Office of Tourism at 413.664.6180 or email email@example.com
Williamstown, MA - Sunday, November 8, 2 pm, at the Milne Public Library, "The Story of Flora's Glen," presented by local historian, Dustin Griffin.
The Williamstown House of Local History is pleased to present another free public lecture program in their monthly series. Dustin Griffin, who spoke last spring about the history of Treadwell Hollow, returns on November 8 to present another of his "micro-histories" of Williamstown. "The Story of Flora's Glen" is an overview of the more than 200-year history of a secluded valley just off Bee Hill Road and a short walk from Field Park. Griffin, a Professor of English Emeritus at New York University, is a Williamstown resident with an active interest in hiking and local history. His talk, illustrated with old maps, drawings, and photographs, both old and new, will highlight the history of Flora's Glen. This little valley was once a wasteland, then a home to a freed former slave, and later, a romantic chasm visited by literary tourists. The site was also a town reservoir and swimming/ice pond, now only visited only by hikers and hardy X-C skiers.
Join the Williamstown House of Local History for this free program at the Milne Library. Parking is available at the library. For more information contact the House of Local History at 413-458-2160, or visit their website: www.williamstownhistory.com.
North Adams, MA - United Neighborhood Organization is sponsoring a trip on Sunday, October 18 for children in the UNO neighborhood up to age 10. Leaving the UNO playground on Bracewell Ave. at 1 pm. to Ioka Valley Farm's Pumpkin Patch in Hancock. To register, please call 413.663.5516.