Monday, May 30, 2011

MEMORIAL


TREES
by Joyce Kilmer
(1886-1918)


I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.


A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed

Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;


A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;


A tree that may in Summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;


Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.


Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

Graphic by Claude Bennington

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

PORT CONFLICT OF INTEREST SPOTLIGHTED

Gifting a public asset to a private entity?

Port Director Dobson's "Sweetheart Deal" Exposed


EXCERPTS FROM: LETTER OF CONCERN
(Letter obtained [redacted] via Public Information Request)


From: ███████████

Subject: Letter of Concern

To: "Jay Hupp", "Tom Wallitner", "Jack Miles"
Date: Sunday, April 10, 2011, 6:36 PM

Dear Commissioners,

It is with a heavy heart that I come to you, and only after exhausting my unsuccessful attempts to correct an apparent conflict of interest that puts the Port of Shelton in jeopardy. A conflict of interest that has existed for the duration of my time at the Port of Shelton but which recently has reached an alarming state. What began as apparent subtle gifting of public funds* has now been lowered to outrageous and egregious abuses of authority, power, the public trust and gifting of public funds.

The Port of Shelton’s Executive Director is in the final stages of preparing what I fear to be an “under the radar” (out of the Commissioners view) gift of a public asset to a private entity, at a substantial financial cost to the Port of Shelton as well as at a loss of unlimited profit potential. I can not, in good conscience, keep these details from you as Commissioners, nor can I enable or participate in what I perceive to be less-than-ethical and less-than-legal behavior. I must bring these facts into the sunlight for you, the Commissioners, to see.

This letter concerns the fairground property. The Port of Shelton currently has commitments from various entities for approximately $40,000 in rental use fees for May through October of this year. (I do not presently have access to the files and specific figures, but rather am working from memory.) Director Dobson’s intention is to give that approximate $40,000 revenue away for $3,000 per month, or the equivalent of $18,000 for this six-month period.

In addition to gifting (?) $22,000 in revenue directly off the top, we are also investing thousands of dollars for the benefit of a private entity, an entity established and managed exclusively by the close personal friends of Director Dobson, John and Rachel Hansen.

Director Dobson takes the position that we will be saving on expenses related to maintaining the fairground property, but the evidence supports otherwise. For example, Director Dobson is planning on installing a new road**, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars, investing in fixing the wiring for thousands more, investing thousands of dollars in Port staff time, committing to invest in roofing, and committing to continuing to invest staff time and resources throughout the year to maintain the extensive grounds within the fenced area between the main gate and the fenced-in building area.


This Port of Shelton investment for a private entity is not standard operating procedure, in my experience. Typically, we rent our properties “as-is”. In the event the Port of Shelton does invest in property improvements for the tenant the cost of such improvements are usually recovered via repayment from the tenant to the Port of Shelton (Examples are Sims Vibration Laboratory, Shearer Brothers, and so on)......

However, the immediate profit loss to the Port of Shelton and profit gain to this private entity, which would seem to be a governmental gifting, under this arrangement is inconsequential compared to the overall long-term big picture and unlimited potential revenue lost to the Port of Shelton. The actual situation involves large losses.

By the Executive Director’s own calculations, the fairground facility stands to generate over $500,000 the first year it is opened up for special events with a projected profit of $200,000 - 300,000. Revenue generated by renting the facility is a small fraction of the overall total. The primarily source of revenue will be special events.


These events, events that the Port of Shelton has spent months talking about sponsoring for these same benefits, i.e. making large profits that could then be reinvested in the Port of Shelton. This is money that could go toward building a new special event facility, toward funds for build-to-suit for new and existing tenants, toward the cold storage facility the Executive Director has planned, and toward so many other worthwhile endeavors that are consistent with the goals and objectives of the Port of Shelton, namely, to create jobs, promote industry, and foster the local economy.

Last year, the Port of Shelton’s first year running the fairground facility, Director Dobson’s argument was that the Hansens were “the only ones” who could “save the fair” and successfully run a special event.

As things currently stand, this immense profit potential will be going to this private entity for years to come as dictated by Director Dobson, who stated emphatically no less than 4 times in a staff meeting Friday, 4/09/11 with myself, Al Frey and Wendy Smith, “I want to help build a business for John and Rachel”, with a pronounced emphasis on “I want”. He makes it very clear that this is a very personal endeavor for him, not a business decision.

Director Dobson also stated during this same meeting that the goal was to eventually have a new event center in which the Hansens would be part owners in a public-private partnership he and the Hansens are working on putting together. Director Dobson referred to this as a “sweetheart deal” he is using to get the Hansens’ business started......


Given that the fair generated $11,000 in profit last year with the Hansen’s at the helm, the official figure according to Director Dobson (truly $6,000 if you deduct the $5,000 the Port of Shelton gave to them), while Oysterfest, also a single weekend event, generated somewhere in the neighborhood of $400,000, according to Director Dobson, clearly putting all of our eggs in one basket with John and Rachel Hansen would not appear to be a financially sound business decision for the Port of Shelton, even if there were no “sweetheart deal”......

It has been my position all along that we, the Port of Shelton, should be organizing and running special events (which is not a unique business model with other governmental agencies, as I understand it), in addition to leasing out the facility to special interest groups who are interested in doing such.

All along, until well into our meeting last Friday, Director Dobson has led us to believe this was a possibility. Even on Friday early on in our meeting Director Dobson asked , "Do you want to do it?" to which I responded, as I had each and every time when this question had been asked previously, "Yes!" (Not only I but other members of the staff feel that is should be done in-house as well, not outsourced).......

When asked why he does not want the Port to manage our own special events, Director Dobson’s response is twofold (1) “I don’t want to be in the fair business” to which I have responded that it is not the “fair” business, it is the “special event” business which is a goldmine and one that he is not willing to allow us to do but yet is willing to give away, all the while acknowledging the huge profit potential it has, and (2) “we don’t have the staff”.

Admittedly, initially the cost of additional staff would have to be funded outside of the profits, until such time as we have an event, however, that would be short-lived. Once we are up and running, the facility will be self-supporting, even according to Director Dobson's own calculations. Director Dobson then added another twist on Friday, saying during our meeting “the commissioners are telling me to get rid of the fairgounds”, to which I responded, “Do they have all the facts? I don’t believe they do.”

My ongoing position has been why give this valuable asset away for a pittance? We do not need to outsource this; once again, doing such has no value to the Port of Shelton and will be at a huge cost to the Port of Shelton.

At a time when businesses are closing, to the tune of approximately $300,000 annual loss in revenue to the Port of Shelton from Olympic Fabrication alone, downsizing and barely hanging on, now is the most opportune time for the Port of Shelton to be maximizing its assets and focusing on maximum revenue generation to the best of our ability.

I believe the evidence outlined in this email supports the position that Director Dobson has a conflict of interest due to his close and personal relationship with John and Rachel Hansen, and that he is not able to make sound, objective business decisions for the welfare and benefit of the Port of Shelton, the community and the taxpayers, all to whom we have a fiduciary responsibility.

I believe the evidence supports that Director Dobson, rather than looking out for the overall health and well-being of the Port of Shelton, is gifting away valuable Port assets, as well as gifting unlimited profit potential to his friends.

At an absolute minimum, please consider having Director Dobson recuse himself from any and all interaction between the Port of Shelton and John and Rachel Hansen, Northwest Event Organizers, Inc. and all entities they may create or be involved with now or in the future.


Somehow Director Dobson’s compass seems to have lost the ability to define magnetic North, the navigational system has completely malfunctioned and it feels as though he has us heading toward a looming mountainside in a dense fog. Together we can recalibrate and restore the system, correcting the course to lead us back to the safety and serenity of good stewardship and responsible government. Please join me in working toward this goal.

To summarize, it is my belief that the Port of Shelton’s ethical standing and financial well-being is in jeopardy of being tarnished and all involved being pulled into the insidious vortex created by Director Dobson’s choices.

The Executive Director is planning on leasing the fairground facility to close personal friends in what he blatantly calls a “sweetheart deal” to get them “started in their business”. This would be at a great financial loss to the Port of Shelton while at the same time an unlimited profit potential for his personal friends, John and Rachel Hansen. There are no plans that I am aware of which would open this up to the public process, allowing other entities to compete for the same opportunity......

Please be aware that signing of the contract I am referencing between Director Dobson and John and Rachel Hansen aka Northwest Event Organizers, Inc., is imminent therefore quick action is required.

Thank you very much for your time, consideration and anticipated timely action.

Best Regards,

███████████

Photo by Christine

SHELTON BLOG NOTE:


Link to complete letter pdf and other related items:
http://myweb.hcc.net/pkands/docs/PortLetter.pdf

Letter pdf also in blog "Reference Documents"

Shelton Blog invites Port Director John Dobson, John and Rachel Hansen, as well as any one else named in this letter to make a statement if they so wish.

Tornadoes: Are We Not Connecting the Dots?


Excerpt from:
Keep Calm and Carry On
By Bill McKibben

Caution: It is vitally important not to make connections. When you see pictures of rubble like this week’s shots from Joplin, Missouri, you should not ask yourself: I wonder if this is somehow related to the huge tornado outbreak three weeks ago in Tuscaloosa, or the enormous outbreak a couple of weeks before that—together they comprised the most active April for tornadoes in our history. But that doesn’t mean a thing.

It is far better to think of these as isolated, unpredictable, discrete events. It is not advised to try and connect them in your mind with, say, the fires now burning across Texas—fires that have burned more of America by this date than any year in our history. Texas, and adjoining parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, are drier than they’ve ever been—the drought is worse than the Dust Bowl. But do not wonder if it’s somehow connected.

If you did wonder, you’d have to also wonder about whether this year’s record snowfalls and rainfalls across the Midwest—resulting in record flooding across the Mississippi—could somehow be related. And if you did that, then you might find your thoughts wandering to, oh, global warming. To the fact that climatologists have been predicting for years that as we flood the atmosphere with carbon we will also start both drying and flooding the planet, since warm air holds more water vapor than cold.


It’s far smarter to repeat to yourself, over and over, the comforting mantra that no single weather event can ever be directly tied to climate change. There have been tornadoes before, and floods—that’s the important thing. Just be careful to make sure you don’t let yourself wonder why all these records are happening at once: why we’ve had unprecedented megafloods from Australia to Pakistan in the last year. Why it’s just now that the Arctic has melted for the first time in thousands of years. Focus on the immediate casualties, watch the videotape from the store cameras as the shelves are blown over. Look at the anchorman up to the chest of his waders in the rising river.


Because if you asked yourself what it meant that the Amazon has just come through its second hundred-year-drought in the last four years, or that the pine forests across the western part of this continent have been obliterated by a beetle in the last decade—well, you might have to ask other questions. Like, should President Obama really just have opened a huge swath of Wyoming to new coal-mining? Should Secretary of State this summer sign a permit allowing a huge new pipeline to carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta? You might have to ask yourself: do we have a bigger problem than four-dollar-a-gallon gasoline?


Better to join with the US House of Representatives, which earlier this spring voted 240-184 to defeat a resolution saying simply “climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for public health and welfare.” Propose your own physics; ignore physics altogether. Just don’t start asking yourself if last year’s failed grain harvest from the Russian heatwave, and Queensland’s failed grain harvest from its record flood, and France and Germany’s current drought-related crop failures, and the death of the winter wheat crop in Texas, and the inability of Midwestern farmers to get corn planted in their sodden fields might somehow be related. Surely the record food prices are just freak outliers, not signs of anything systemic.


It’s very important to stay completely calm. If you got upset about any of this, you might forget how important it is not to disrupt the record profits of our fossil fuel companies. If worst ever did come to worst, it’s reassuring to remember what the US Chamber of Commerce told the EPA in a recent filing: there’s no need to worry because “populations can acclimatize to warmer climates via a range of range of behavioral, physiological, and technological adaptations". I’m pretty sure that’s what they’re telling themselves in Joplin today.


Bill McKibben is founder of the global climate campaign 350.org, and Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College.

Link to complete article:
http://www.350.org/en/about/blogs/mckibben-washington-post-climate-and-tornadoes

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

IS STATUS QUO THE FUTURE WE WANT?

Smokestacks, Foul Air & Vacant Buildings Our Legacy?

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Katherine Price
Mason County Progressive

Because I live and work in Shelton, I take it personally when an industry decides to add additional pollution to my air. This helps explain why I have been opposed to the Simpson/Solomon proposed biomass incinerator since the day I heard about it. I believe that if the Solomon plant ever goes online in the harbor, it will be the end of downtown Shelton and surrounding neighborhoods.

Until yesterday it was simply my common sense that told me this. Yesterday, however, I was in Grays Harbor and got to see what the death of a community looks like.


My husband and I were looking for a place to eat in Hoquiam after our granddaughter's dance recital at the 7th Street Theatre. In the course of searching for a restaurant that was open, we easily passed a half dozen closed eating establishments, and more closed businesses. We were finally able to find a nice Italian restaurant to have dinner, but it was a pretty depressing experience. The restaurant in question was a little upscale, and served great food. I suspect they are a favorite of locals and may be able to weather the economic depression in Grays Harbor for a while yet...but even their future is uncertain in a community without living-wage jobs.

Hoquiam exists in the shadow of the Grays Harbor Paper Company chimney, which was belching full-throated yesterday into the Grays Harbor air. Now that the timber industry has come to a screeching halt in the Harbor, there are not many jobs. Some are at the paper company, a few at those businesses still hanging on by their fingernails, but generally more businesses seem to be "out of business" in the Harbor than are "in business".

Even without Solomon belching 24/7/365 into the air, we are losing businesses in Shelton at what seems like the rate of one or two per month. Last week it was the art gallery on Railroad; a few weeks before that, the crystal shop on Railroad; before that Vern's Restaurant on First Street; and now it's happened again on Railroad, Ah Badabing Pizzeria is gone (and they had good pizza!).

I am sure our readers can report on even more businesses I have missed or forgotten. It's not very encouraging.

And what are the Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Council recommending to help revitalize our community? Well, there was ADAGE; and then of course there was ADAGE; and then again there was ADAGE. They were really, really big on ADAGE. Since there is no ADAGE now, what are their plans for revitalizing our community?

Well, there is Solomon... and, of course, tourist dollars.

I was just in Grays Harbor, and I can assure you that folks drive through there faster than they drive through Shelton. Tourists don't come to look at smokestacks and smell foul air. They just don't. If Solomon goes on line, the tourist dollars that the Chamber Pot and the EDC are counting on will be just so much more smoke and mirrors.

Where is the leadership that Shelton needs to help find better ways to revitalize our community? It is certainly not to be found with Simpson/Solomon, the Chamber, the EDC, or our City Commissioners. Those folks are looking somehow to keep things going by doing the same things that worked in the past.

If Shelton is going to survive into the next decade, we are going to need some new, innovative thinkers; status quo is not going to take us into the future.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cartoon for the Day

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Claude

What's Wrong With Biomass Baghouses?


JAKE’S BAGHOUSE

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Jake Rufer
Mason County Progressive

Fourteen or so years ago, I bought a Sears wet/dry Shopvac. The internal filter finally wore out last month. I checked-in at the Lacy Sears store for a new filter. No comparable filter on the shelf but was told I could order one. I needed it now as my wife was a bit displeased with the escapage from the old worn out filter. Sears did have a “hepa” quality filter at twice the list price for a regular filter. I bought it.


I showed it to my wife. She smiled and I smiled, too. I fitted it onto its plastic frame. I hooked up the suction hose to my table saw. The filter worked fine for a couple hours--then--I noticed sawdust being whipped from the blade into my face. I stopped the saw, stopped the shopvac, inspected the filter; it was plugged. I unhooked the hose and it was laden with sawdust.


I did a search on baghouse problems--many hits--and there it was--Like a flash, I understood what one of the problems with biomass baghouses is.

They plug up! Not only do they plug up, if there is any means of bypass, the junk to be caught is dumped into the air--effectively into the face and nostrils of every breathing being within nature’s reach. I, of course, became aware of a problem when the sawdust hit my face. As to operators of biomass baghouses, who is to know when they become aware of junk being dumped into the air. We people rely upon scientific instruments such as properly calibrated and “unfiddled with” nephelometers--provided the information is reported to us.


Now, if the folks back in Vermont really want to know what is wrong with biomass baghouses, they should try an experiment with a Sears shopvac fitted with a hepa filter, 0R simply type “baghouse problems” into a favorite search engine
.

No Foul Play in Vermont Biomass Plant Fire

Excerpt from:
Middlebury Biomass Fire Still a Mystery
By Susie Steimle

Middlebury, Vermont - May 20, 2011


The biomass plant in Middlebury reduces the college's carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent, saves 1 million gallons annually in number 6 fuel oil and is projected to make Middlebury carbon-free by 2016, but for now progress is on pause.
"Vermont fire marshal investigators have concluded that there was no foul play involved, no malicious intent, so from there it's a matter of us figuring out what really happened," said Michael Moser, the assistant director of facilities at Middlebury College.

Middlebury staffers say they're stumped when it comes to the fire which started spontaneously in the biomass plant Monday. No one was hurt in the fire which started in the plant's baghouse filter system.
"The baghouse filter system is part of the emissions control component for the plant, reducing particulate emissions," Moser explained.

The baghouse filter helps keep the plant green. Without it, potentially harmful particulates will pollute the air. It's the part causing problems at a similarly designed plant in Poultney. Unlike the plant in Poultney, Middlebury's biomass plant has been online since 2009. Officials say this week's fire was a fluke.


Green Mountain College's biomass plant has been having baghouse filter problems since December 2010; they've yet to come into compliance with state. In March, Green Mountain's biomass plant director said they were working closely with the state to bring the plant online.
"As you bring all of these mechanical components into play there's a whole lot of tuning and tweaking that has to happen to get it to run very smoothly," said Glenn LaPlante, the biomass plant director at Green Mountain College.

State officials say the plant has since shut down for the summer-- another cost for a plant that's still not paid for. The plant in Poultney cost $5.8 million to build and won't be paid off for at least 18 years. The plant in Middlebury cost more than double that at $12 million. Officials say they expect it will take at least 20 years for the plant to turn a profit.


Link to complete article:

http://www.wcax.com/story/14687547/middlebury-biomass-fire-still-a-mystery

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cartoon for the Day

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Claude

CA University Receives $500K Biomass Grant


Excerpt from:
HSU forestry to participate in biomass project

Humboldt State University's forestry department received a $500,000 grant to participate in a project that will determine if slash and other waste from harvesting trees can be used as an energy-efficient source of fuel.

HSU will partner with Green Diamond Resource Co. in Korbel, the University of Montana, Washington State University, the Coquille Indian Tribe of Oregon and other agencies in the project, which will be funded by a $5.3 million federal research and development grant. Part of the research will be conducted on land owned by Green Diamond in California.


According to HSU spokesman Paul Mann, the project will consist of determining if converting slash and biomass waste to biofuel could revive rural economies that were dependent on the timber industry. Project researchers also hope that it would reduce the risk of wildfire.


The biomass project is one of eight nationwide funded by $42 million in federal research and development grants. These projects are part of the Obama administration's drive to curb reliance on imported oil, cut greenhouse gas emissions and increase economic development in rural areas.


Link to complete article:

http://www.times-standard.com/localnews/ci_18103305

Thursday, May 19, 2011

SHOWDOWN IN AMERICA

STORMING THE CASTLE




Link to National People's Action:
http://npa-us.org/

Link to Showdown in America:
http://showdowninamerica.org/ohio

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cartoon for the Day

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Claude

DOE Acknowledges Same Source Request


SOLOMON: An Independent or Same Source Polluter?

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Katherine Price
Mason County Progressive

On May 16, 2011, I had a message on my phone from Dr. Jeff Johnston of the Department of Ecology. Dr. Johnston is the Science and Engineering Section Manager for the Air Quality Program, the person who signed off on the separate source determination for Simpson/Solomon, determining that all of these Simpson/Reed owned and controlled businesses are all their own separate little worlds, that they are not connected nor controlled by one source, hence the "separate source" baloney.

Dr. Johnston apologized for not acknowledging my April 5, 2011, letter and he acknowledged receipt of both that letter and my May 11, 2011, letter. In his defense, in his message he said he has been investigating the information I submitted with my letters. (For a month and a half?) However, that's great news, and that much time leads me to hope that a little more time taken now might yield the correct result: a same source determination.

What I mean is, it took less than two weeks for Dr. Johnston to:
  1. Review Solomon's request
  2. Perform an appropriate investigation to verify the information provided
  3. Write up his separate source determination.
I know this because in the Air Permit Application of Solomon Renewable Energy Company submitted to the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency there are two dates which relate to the Department of Ecology's separate source determination: July 23, 2010, and August 4, 2010, a period of about twelve days.

The Solomon Air Permit Application identifies July 23, 2010, as the date of Solomon's "Separate Source Determination Request" to the Department of Ecology; and the Application identifies August 4, 2010, as the date of the Department of Ecology's Separate Source Determination. I can confirm the August 4, 2010, date because I am looking at a copy of the Department of Ecology's determination letter.

What I am waiting for is the copy of Solomon's Request of July 23, 2010, which I requested on May 16, via facsimile, pursuant to a "Request for Public Record" to the Department of Ecology.


It took almost six weeks, two letters (one certified mail), two blog posts, and a fax to the Department of Ecology, to get a phone call acknowledging receipt of my letters and explaining their delay in responding.

If Solomon had hand delivered the July 23 Separate Source Determination Request to Ecology, the turnaround for Ecology responding was 12 days. If the Solomon request was mailed, even less time to review, investigate, and issue a determination.

Granted, Dr. Johnston's separate source determination was based "on information submitted".

Pretty soon we will have a copy of that request, and we will know what information was submitted to persuade Ecology to make this separate source determination.

In the meantime, having received some conflicting information, Dr. Johnston is prudently taking his time now to investigate what he has been provided. I applaud Dr. Johnston for taking a long look now to be sure that he was not misled previously, and for making a new determination if his investigation reveals that we are talking "same source" not "separate source", as this writer believes.

Keep you posted...

SHELTON BLOG NOTE:

Links to previous related posts:

Same Source Determination Request Update
http://masoncountyprogressive.blogspot.com/2011/05/same-source-determination-request.html

Is Solomon an Independent Polluting Unit?

http://masoncountyprogressive.blogspot.com/2011/05/is-solomon-independent-polluting-unit.html

Reopen DOE Separate Source Determination

http://masoncountyprogressive.blogspot.com/2011/04/reopen-doe-separate-source.html

CCMC/ADAGE LAWSUIT DISMISSED


Excerpt from:
Lawsuit Against Port Dismissed

By Dedrick Allan

The lawsuit filed by Concerned Citizens of Mason County against the Port of Shelton over the Port's option to lease agreement to ADAGE has been dismissed.

The Port's Executive Director, John Dobson told the Commissioners Tuesday that the appeal that was pending was dismissed with prejudice saying "It's done". The Port's Attorney, Skip Houser, explained that a suit dismissed with prejudice cannot be filed again and that the costs of filing the dismissal that the Port agreed to pay will be reimbursed by ADAGE.


Link to complete article:
http://www.masoncountydailynews.com/news/news-page/6833-lawsuit-against-port-dismissed

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cartoon for the Day

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Claude

ORCAA Summer Land Clearing Burn Ban


Excerpt from:
No Land Clearing Burn Permits
By Dedrick Allan

The Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA) will NOT be issuing land clearing burn permits this summer. According to a news release from ORCAA, the State Department of Natural Resources announced this week there will be a statewide burn ban on all DNR-protected lands starting July 1 and running through September 30th. This ban is to promote fire safety and because ORCAA supports all DNR actions, this means all land clearing burning in ORCAA's six-county jurisdiction which includes Mason, Thurston and Grays Harbor counties, will be prohibited.

While the primary reason for the current bans are to reduce wildfire risks, ORCAA encourages everyone to use this as an opportunity to explore safe, reasonable alternatives to outdoor burning. Those alternatives include using a mulching mower to reduce or eliminate grass clippings; chip and/or compost your yard and garden debris; or haul your yard and garden debris to a community composting facility.


Link to complete article:
http://www.masoncountydailynews.com/news/news-page/6539-no-land-clearing-burn-permits

Saturday, May 14, 2011

NW Hydroelectric Dam Power Surplus


Excerpt from:
Northwest power surplus may halt wind energy
By Tim Fought

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The manager of most of the electricity in the Pacific Northwest is running such a surplus of power from hydroelectric dams that it put wind farms on notice Friday that they may be shut down as early as this weekend.

The Bonneville Power Administration has more than enough electricity during a cold, wet spring that has created a big surge in river flows where hydroelectric dams are located. The agency responded by announcing its intentions to curtail wind power until the grid has more capacity, in a move likely to cost the industry millions of dollars.

The decision reflects an overlooked issue amid the push to add wind farms around the country: The capacity of power grids has not kept pace.

How soon and low long wind farms might be shut down depends on how quickly the region warms up and the water shoots downriver to the Pacific Ocean, said Steven Wright, administrator of the BPA. The farms that would be shut down are mostly in Washington and Oregon.

The main culprit for the wind slowdown is spring weather that followed a winter with heavy snow in the mountains feeding the Columbia River basin. The spring surge is expected to be the largest of this century.

When water levels are this high, the agency said, it has no choice but to use the water to generate electricity in hydroelectric dams. Laws protecting endangered species prevent it from sending all the excess water through spillways and around the dams. That beats up salmon and steelhead. It also creates so much nitrogen gas bubbling in the water that the fish get the equivalent of the bends.

Grid operators say they have run out of capability to sell the surplus electricity, store the water or shut down gas, oil, and nuclear plants — leaving wind farms the unfortunate victim.

The financing of many wind farms relies on tax credits that are of benefit only if electricity is produced. And the decision could set the stage for even more significant fights in the years to come if the Northwest wind industry doubles its capacity, as projected, over the next decade.

Link to complete article:
http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/NW-has-too-much-dam-power-plans-wind-power-halt-1379008.php

Warning From National Academy of Sciences

Excerpt from:
US Action to Combat Climate Change Remains Urgent
By Lauren Morello and ClimateWire

Yet another science report warns that action
must be taken to restrain greenhouse emissions

CLIMATE OF CHANGE?: Yet another report, this time from the U.S. National Research Council, urges swift action to combat climate change.

Climate change poses "significant risks" to society, the National Academy of Sciences said yesterday, warning that delaying cuts in greenhouse gas emissions will make dealing with the problem harder in the future.

"Each additional ton of greenhouse gases emitted commits us to further change and greater risks," an academy panel said in a new report, which calls for the federal government to take a lead role in combating climate change at home and abroad.

Such advice runs counter to the political mood on Capitol Hill, where Senate Democrats recently defeated a Republican-led attempt to strip U.S. EPA of its ability to regulate carbon dioxide. That measure originated in the GOP-controlled House, which has also pushed for -- and won -- bruising budget cuts at federal environment and science agencies.

But the science academy's plain-spoken analysis, prepared in response to Congress' request for "action-oriented advice," warns of a "pressing need for substantial action to limit the magnitude of climate change and to prepare to adapt to its impacts."

"The risks associated with doing business as usual are a much greater concern than the risks associated with engaging in strong response efforts," the report adds. "This is because many aspects of an 'overly ambitious' policy response could be reversed if needed, through subsequent policy change; whereas adverse changes in the climate system are much more difficult (indeed, on the timescale of our lifetimes, may be impossible) to 'undo.'"

The analysis, prepared by a team of scientists, economists and engineers, also weighs in on the state of climate science, which it deems sound -- though it says some degree of uncertainty about the rate and severity of future climate change is inevitable.

"Given the inherent complexities of the climate system, and the many social, economic, technological, and other factors that affect the climate system, we can expect always to be learning more and to be facing uncertainties regarding future risks," the report says. "This is not, however, a reason for inaction."

In fact, said NAS committee chairman Albert Carnesale, "Uncertainty may be more of a need for taking action," because climate forecasts can't rule out the prospect that some impacts of climate change will be more severe than scientists now anticipate.

Report calls Congress to action, but are battle lines too hardened?

The report notes that climate change is already evident in the United States, where the average air temperature has risen 2 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 50 years, sea levels are rising along much of the coasts, patterns of rainfall and drought are changing, and Alaska's permafrost is warming.

Carnesale, chancellor emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles, said his panel sought to make "policy-relevant" recommendations but stopped short of prescribing specific actions.

Those recommendations include calling for the federal government to take the lead on efforts to combat climate change with emissions cuts and programs to adapt to effects of warming that can't be avoided. Although several states and cities have put in place their own efforts to fight warming, the NAS panel said those piecemeal efforts aren't enough by themselves.

Similarly, action by the United States is key to international efforts to cut humans' greenhouse gas output, the report says.

"U.S. emissions alone will not be adequate to avert dangerous climate change risks," it notes, "but strong U.S. emission reduction efforts will enhance our ability to influence other countries to do the same."

Reaction to the report on Capitol Hill fell predictably along party lines.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) called the NAS report "the latest watertight finding on the pile of countless peer-reviewed scientific studies that underscore the risks if the United States doesn't address climate change now, not in 10 or 20 years."

Link to complete article:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=us-action-to-combat-climate-change-remains-urgent

Friday, May 13, 2011

Same Source Determination Request Update


RE: SEPARATE SOURCE DETERMINATION FOR
PROPOSED SOLOMON RENEWABLE ENERGY FACILITY

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Katherine Price Mason County Progressive

On April 5, 2011, I sent a lengthy letter to the Department of Ecology in
connection with their "Separate Source Determination for Proposed Solomon Renewable Energy Company Facility." A copy was posted on this blog.

I was rather hoping to at least receive an acknowledgment of that letter, with perhaps some excuse for why they could not or would not reconsider their position; or a song and dance about how they might reconsider it, but being short-staffed like other government agencies their actual
response might take some time. These were my expectations. Instead, I received a resounding -- nothing.

In re-reading my letter I note that at one point I referred to Solomon as "Simpson" (an easy enough mistake to make if you live in Shelton), but the rest of the document clearly addresses the "Solomon" facility, as did the documents I included for their information, so their continued silence is puzzling.

However, because I am stubborn I have written to Ecology again. This time my letter was sent certified mail, return receipt requested.

I will keep the air-breathing community updated in the event my follow-up letter is deemed worthy of a reply from the Department of Ecology.

The text of my May 11, 2011, letter follows:

CERTIFIED MAIL/RETURN
RECEIPT REQUESTED

May 11, 2011

DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY
Attention: Jeff Johnston, PhD
Science and Engineering Section Manager
Air Quality Program
Post Office Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600

Re: Separate Source Determination for Proposed Solomon Renewable Energy Company Facility

Dear Dr. Johnston:

Enclosed is a copy of my letter to you of April 5, 2011, together with the documents referred to in that letter.

I am hopeful that you might have had the opportunity by now to review the letter and documents.

I am also hopeful that, based on the documentation provided, you intend to reconsider your “Separate Source Determination” and issue a “Same Source Determination” for the Simpson/Solomon plant.

I would appreciate a reply to my correspondence at your early convenience,
or at least an acknowledgment that my correspondence has been received.

If you and/or Ecology decide not to reconsider the determination, I would
appreciate being advised so that I might pursue other available remedies.

Thank you for your attention to this inquiry.

Very truly yours,

Katherine Austin Price

/kap
Enclosures

Link to previous related post "Reopen DOE Separate Source Determination":
http://masoncountyprogressive.blogspot.com/2011/04/reopen-doe-separate-source.html

Is Solomon an Independent Polluting Unit?


SOLOMON: LACKEY OR INDEPENDENT?

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Jake Rufer Mason County Progressive


The Washington State Department of Ecology has determined that Simpson and Solomon Renewable Energy Company (SREC) are two (or will be) two independent polluting units as opposed to one polluting unit. With that determination, Simpson's pollution will not be counted as added to that of Solomon's prospective pollution.

On the web, I checked out the WA Division of Corporations and searched on the various Simpson companies.

SIMPSON INVESTMENT COMPANY is the top level organization. In the trade, Simpson Investment Company is called a holding company. Holding companies have controlling interest in other companies. Holding companies often exercise direct control over other companies, not only by holding controlling interest in shares, but by positioning one or more of their officers and directors on the subservient corporation boards. Washington Secretary of State, Division of Corporations, lists the governing persons of Simpson Investment Company as follows:

Chairman, Director Mosley, Colin
Director Morel, A R
Director Lyford, C
Director Felton, R
Director Phillips, M
Director Cline, R
Director Johnson, E
Vice President McEntee, DM
Vice President Heemstra, JA
President Trinkwald, AF
Vice President, Secretary, Stauffer, B
Treasurer Anderson, S

The above officers and directors in bold type are shown to be sitting on the boards of the following Simpson corporations.

Simpson Lumber Co: S. Anderson, A.F. Trinkwald,
Simpson Door Co: S. Anderson, D.M. McEntee, J.A. Heemstra, B. Stauffer
Green Diamond: C. Mosley
Simp Tacoma Kraft: D.M. McEntee

Assuming that my use of the Division of Corporation's published information is accurate, I make one obvious conclusion. We are dealing with an INTERLOCKING DIRECTORATE. I suggest that the reader do a web search on that term to find out what others report about interlocking directorates.

More to the point, a question looms: Is Solomon independent of the Simpson combine or is it a subsidiary to Simpson Investment Company?

As is shown above, Simpson Investment Company is fully experienced at forming controlled subsidiaries. The Division of Corporation’s web records indicate but one person associated with Solomon LLC, Barry Cosme, Manager. I next searched on the name, Barry Cosme, and made some hits. One such hit is entitled “Barry Cosme, Simpson Investment Company/Spoke”. I opened the Spoke reference where I found the name listed at Simpson Investment Company. (I did not have to pay money to open the commercial search engine.)


Perhaps Simpson/Solomon is but one polluting unit, rather than two independent polluting units as the DOE has determined?

Cartoon for the Day

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Claude

Thursday, May 12, 2011

SOME THOUGHTS ON $OLOMON


THE REAL BOTTOM LINE: TRADING HEALTH FOR PROFIT$

Submitted to Shelton Blog by John Cox
Mason County Progressive

Dear Neighbor,

I've heard you mention that you thought the new Simpson/Solomon/Green Diamond incinerator was a good thing overall. I've been wanting to say something to you about this.

As best as any of us can tell, the old Simpson Lumber incinerator would continue to operate as usual to produce steam for Simpson's local operations. These operations are not constant, tend to last only a few days, and then the incinerator is shut down again. For example, this past month, the incinerator does not seem to have been in operation much at all.

Yes, the old incinerator does produce more pollution than the new one would, but because the old one is operated only intermittently, the overall output of pollution would be less. The new Solomon incinerator would run 24/7/365, and if you add it all up, the old one, alone, is better for the planet and local air-breathers.

Our community would be better off if Simpson keeps the old incinerator and runs it as usual. I think any biomass incinerator is an environmental disaster, but the operation of the current incinerator is needed for Simpson's local work and the jobs it creates. It is accepted by most of our community for that reason.

The new proposed Solomon incinerator, however, is a different beast. It was very clearly stated by the Simpson representative at their info meeting last September, that the purpose of the new Solomon incinerator would be solely to make money selling the electricity generated to the highest bidder for profit. This has very little to do with keeping or creating jobs in Shelton (and at Solomon's own admission, the new incinerator would only provide an additional 2 to 3 jobs for our community).

To produce this electricity, the proposed Solomon incinerator would produce many additional tons of pollution (the numbers are all on the ORCAA website in Solomon's permit application). This additional pollution will most definitely increase the health hazards for everyone in our community, but without any meaningful positive benefits of any kind for our community.

Solomon's new incinerator would trade our health for its profit$. That's the real bottom line.

More later...

John

Cartoon for the Day

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Claude

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Is New Air Monitor in Need of Recalibration?


PERHAPS CALLS TO ORCAA ARE IN ORDER?

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Katherine Price
Mason County Progressive

It seems like it was only yesterday that the air-breathers were celebrating ORCAA moving the air monitor from the old site at the hospital to the new site on top of the public safety building.


Since the move. we have watched the monitor results on this blog with great interest as day after day the air in downtown Shelton, with or without Simpson burning, is just so spanking clean!

Well, except for those first few days... when it must have been working properly, and it may have been recording data in connection with the diesel trucks that operate frequently near the new site. It seems that since those early days, well the air in Shelton has been just swell.


Which begs the question: Is the air monitor in need of recalibration? Or, perhaps it has already been recalibrated to give these pleasing readings?

It boggles the mind how moving the monitor to its new location could possibly result in all of these days of good air, especially in light of the numbers of diesel trucks which pass closer to it on the public safety building than ever they did when it was situated at the hospital.

Perhaps calls to ORCAA inquiring into how often the monitor is checked for accuracy; how often it has been (or will be) calibrated; and whether it is safe from tampering are in order?

These are a few of the questions I have come up with. I am sure the air-breathers in our community can come up with some more of their own.

Also, now that the City has entered into the agreement with ORCAA to house the monitor, I would assume the City can answer some of these questions.

Inquiring minds want to know how moving the monitor from the former site on the hospital, to its new site downtown, has resulted in such pristine air.

SHELTON BLOG NOTE:

Call ORCAA at 360-539-7610 or 1-800-422-5623

Cartoon for the Day

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Claude

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

HAVE YOU HEARD THE GOOD NEWS?


ARE WE LUCKY OR WHAT?

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Tom Davis
Mason County Progressive

Have you heard the good news? Mason County is on the short list for a brand new 1,024 bed “Prison Reception Center” just a crime spree away from the existing prison. If this goose decides to lay its golden egg, the old “Reception Center” will move to the new facility and the Corrections Center can accommodate 300 more prisoners. Are we lucky, or what?

What’s a “Prison Reception Center” you say? Well, it’s kind of like boot camp for new prisoners. Yeah, I know, but it sounds a lot better than an “Indoctrination Center,” and makes everybody feel a little better about what goes on inside.


Didn’t get the memo? Well, the hearing was held this past Friday evening at the new Public Works building. It wasn’t really the best time for most citizens to attend but, no matter, all the heavy hitters were there trying to get the Dept. of Corrections to pick Mason County over the Bremerton or Thurston County sites.


One thing you have to say about our local officials is that when it comes to government handouts they’re right up there at the front of the line. Of course, with a little initiative it may have been possible to persuade a more suitable business to relocate to our community, but I guess there’s no point in going hunting when there’s a dead deer right there on the side of the road.

I did a little research before attending the hearing, and even tried to ask the DOC guy a question about jobs. As it turns out, less than 20% of the jobs created from building a new prison in a rural area will go to local residents. He wasn’t too excited about getting into that, or even how the rest of the positions would be filled. Fact is, he punted the question to the EIS guy who cocked his head and shot me a one-eyed turkey-look that said, where you going with this, son? Never did get my question answered.

Of course, not too many people ever dreamed of becoming a prison guard, and even less parents dreamed of such a future for their kids. The good news is that those responsible for bringing jobs to Mason County have finally snagged a real “growth industry,” the bad news is that there are now more prisoners in our country than there are farmers. No, I’m not whining about the poor state of our socio-economic condition; I’m merely trying to explain why you can’t find a good tomato anymore, unless you grow one yourself.


All this should make you wonder why we’re paying so much money to people who think the key to our future lies in another prison. Prisons don’t really fill me with community pride. And even if they did, maybe two of them is a little too much pride for one community.


I guess some of us will never be happy with what the cat dragged in.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Words From Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)

Submitted to Shelton Blog by Claude


"Brutes find out where their talents lie;

A bear will not attempt to fly;
A founder'd horse will oft debate,
Before he tries a five-barr'd gate;
A dog by instinct turns aside,
Who sees the ditch too deep and wide.
But man we find the only creature
Who,
led by Folly, combats Nature;
Who,
when she loudly cries, Forbear,
With obstinacy fixes there;
And, where his genius least inclines,
Absurdly bends his whole designs."


Link to complete poem:

http://www.online-literature.com/swift/3515/

CHRIS HEDGES: ON USA EDUCATION

Excerpt from:
Why the United States Is Destroying Its Education System
By Chris Hedges

A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public information, guts its public libraries and turns its airwaves into vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It prizes test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of corporate masters and serfs.

Link to complete article:
http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/why_the_united_states_is_destroying_her_education_system_20110410/