Grasshopper Soup: Just say no to biomass plant | SierraSun.com

Grasshopper Soup: Just say no to biomass plant

Bob Sweigert
Special to the Sun

TAHOE/TRUCKEE and#8212; The biomass plant will never be built in Kings Beach. But donand#8217;t take that for granted.

The science of biomass energy, regardless of which side of the issue you are on, demands the making of intelligent, realistic, community-minded decisions as to where a good place for a biomass plant might be, whether or not there are enough resources in the region to sustain one, and who will be responsible for its operation. Certain governing bodies in the Tahoe Basin have not always demonstrated the ability to make wise decisions.

The TRPA supports the biomass plant. That is reason enough to oppose the project. The TRPA is a shrewd, but troubled organization. They are being raked over the coals left and right all around the lake because of poor decisions and hardball tactics. They were ordered to return a large sum of money that they tried to strong-arm from buoy owners. They hired some eager beavers to paddle around in kayaks and tape extra fee notices on empty buoys that most buoy owners never saw until it was too late.

Biomass is an appealing word, a fit and compact word with lots of substance. It even sounds environmentally friendly. Itand#8217;s a hook loaded with bait for the general public, a clever disguise for the special interests who wish to ascend the socio-economic ladder in the company of those who have mistakenly deemed a biomass plant in Kings Beach a good idea, and who will receive generous federal funding for the project.

One ostensible selling point for biomass energy production is that it will greatly accelerate the time-sensitive process of transforming society to a clean energy economy. But the ends do not justify the means. There is too much at stake for us to use our children, and Lake Tahoe, as guinea pigs in what could be considered the greatest experiment of our time and#8212; converting the entire infrastructure of our country and completely transforming the way we produce energy. Haste makes waste.

Do not be sold the myth that a biomass plant in Tahoe is the natural evolution of everything we have learned about and#8220;Greenand#8221; energy and the proper guidelines and procedures for comprehensive community service and responsible environmental stewardship. A biomass plant may be a good idea somewhere, but not in Tahoe.

The potential does exist for a sustainable and risk-free (if there is such a thing) new form of energy production, but not in the Tahoe Basin. Not in such proximity to a school. The risks posed to our quality of life, air quality and wildlife habitat are just not worth the potential benefits. Biomass plants produce carbon emissions. A biomass plant would be a gross anomaly in the already threatened environment of the Lake Tahoe Basin.

It may not be fair to equate a biomass plant with sitting in your car, the engine running, car windows open, your well-sealed garage completely closed, and then lying down comfortably in the back seat for a long nap. But we can compare it to the oil industry as far as accidents, large or small, arising from human error are concerned.

We must continue to fight against the biomass plant. We cannot sit back and trust in the powers that be to make the kind of decisions we want them to make. Keep the pressure on to stop the plant and you will succeed. Hold everyone accountable. Demand that they play by the rules in the decision process and in their attempts to sell us a biomass plant; and not just the legal rules, but the common sense, common good, ethical and moral rules as well. As long as all of those rules are considered, plans for a biomass plant in the pristine environment of the Tahoe Basin will be scrapped.

This is not a NIMBY issue, not when and#8220;my back yardand#8221; is the eco-system of Lake Tahoe, its people, the forests and wildlife that make up life on the slopes of the Tahoe Basin.

Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, former college instructor and ski instructor. He has a B.A. and an M.A.T. from Gonzaga University. He has lived at Lake Tahoe for 28 years.