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Opposition Massing Against Biomass Plant in Torrance County

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Monday, April 30, 2007   


A once-popular plan to build a biomass power plant in Torrance County is being scrutinized because it might not be so "clean" and "green" after all. Brian Bird with the group Forest Guardians is leading local opposition to the plant, which would burn piñon and juniper trees to make electricity.

“The problem is it's not necessarily clean, and it's not renewable. It takes as long as 200 or 300 years for a piñon or juniper tree to grow to maturity in New Mexico. So eventually, we're going to end up mining our forests for energy.”

Proponents claim the forests are overgrown, and thinning some trees to fuel the plant would be good for both local forests and watersheds. Bird disagrees, and he says the plant would actually use a large amount of water for cooling, and create tons of air pollution.

Bird adds that right now the Estancia Valley has a very clean airshed. But he worries that could change with added pollution from a new biomass plant.

“Any pollution in that valley is gonna sit in the valley under the heavier air above, and we think it may cause undue health concerns.”

PNM says it will purchase power from the 35-megawatt plant to serve some 25,000 homes in New Mexico. But Bird believes New Mexico's climate is better suited to other alternative energies, like wind and solar power.



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