Burning Trees for Electricity in Lane County?

The Student Insurgent

Local Timber Baron, Seneca Jones, built a ‘biomass’ power-plant. Burning lumber, from Oregon’s timber sales and converting the energy to electricity. This facility was opened today, May 5, 2011 and from day one protests reigned in any notion that this plant was a good idea.

This lumber-fired generator was built with an exemption from air pollution regulation, over the concerns raised from the common knowledge: burning wood releases smoke. Despite the exemptions of Lane County, there has been wide-spread opposition from the Sierra Club to the Cascadia Forest Defense, that this plant will encourage the commodification, exploitation and destruction of Oregon forests, additionally degrading air quality. To put a stop to this facility, a protest of nearly forty shut the gate to the plant, by picket, banner drop and lock-down. Three were arrested in the process.

One person in lock-down was only visible from waist down, as he was locked under a station wagon with a bike lock. The whole entrance was shut down while seven police cruisers waited by and two fire crews were called in to cut out the protester. The police seemed on-edge, with assault rifles in their cars and a K-9 unit on call to protect the Seneca Jones Plant.

Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (L.R.A.P.A.) granted the exemption, it is widely known that they have been bought-off of the Jones. The plant is located just North the Eugene city limits, on highway 99. and is therefore regulated by Lane county. Lane county is already known for poor air quality, because of it’s place as the un-official grass seed capitol of the world. Adding to pollen, is the common practice of field burning, these combine for an already awful hay-fever season. Adding the ash and soot from a giant furnace will not improve conditions.

The Plant was hailed by regional planners as a job building success, to bring in money and burn up the pulp from the Seneca Saw mill. What is not mentioned, is the cut logs being used to stoke Seneca’s fire, state forests being cut and burned for electricity. There has been no plan for payment when respiratory diseases and cancer rates increase. The plant is located by the low income and expanding North Eugene neighborhood of River Road.

The Seneca three, shut down the plant for several hours and this is only day one.

UPDATE: The three arrested were all released separately from lane County Jail at 3pm.