Never mind that the incineration of woody biomass emits carcinogenic dioxins and particle matter that exacerbates respiratory and cardiac problems. Never mind that Vancouver earns an “F” in 24-hour particle matter pollution, according to the American Lung Association. Never mind that, according to the Washington Department of Natural Resources, natural gas combustion, which the county now employs, is “significantly lower [than woody biomass combustion] in all pollutants.” Never mind national litigation disputing safety and carbon neutrality of biomass burning. Never mind that numerous citizens and organizations have voiced ardent opposition to Clark County’s proposed biomass plant.
County Commissioners Tom Mielke and Marc Boldt have decided to ignore it all and proceed with this threat to residents’ health, quality of life, and recent efforts to revitalize downtown. Their hasty dealings with Schneider Electric, who has no extant biomass plants in the U.S. and hopes to qualify for an $8 million federal energy grant by year’s end, prove that short-sighted economic gain and nominally “green” policy are more valuable than the health, well-being, and opinions of constituents. It’s hard to say which stinks more: toxic emissions we can expect from Schneider’s plant or our insultingly disinterested elected officials.