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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Hearing Tomorrow on Proposal to Build CA's First Large Wood Pellet Plants

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Monday, June 19, 2023   

Conservation groups are encouraging people to speak out at a virtual hearing tomorrow on two proposed wood pellet plants. They would be among the largest in the country.

A company called Golden State Natural Resources -- made up of county supervisors from rural counties -- said it wants to reduce the fuel load in national forests by removing what they call "excess biomass."

Laura Haight, U.S. policy director for the nonprofit Partnership for Policy Integrity, said forest thinning does not protect nearby homes and added dead or burned trees should be left in place because they sequester carbon.

"They're claiming this is to help restore forests and make them more resilient," Haight explained. "But in fact, it's logging them sending it overseas where it's burned in the power plant. So, I mean you're actually accelerating climate change because you're accelerating the movement of carbon from these trees into the atmosphere."

The pellets would be shipped from the Port of Stockton. The company previously wanted to use the Port of Richmond as well, but dropped the plan in the face of community opposition. Haight pointed out wood pellet storage piles spew methane and dust, and have been known to spontaneously combust, causing huge fires, which can take months to extinguish.

Shaye Wolf, director of climate science at the Center for Biological Diversity in Oakland, said wood pellet plants in places like North Carolina have led to clear-cut logging and ecological disaster.

"The wood pellet industry has really devastated communities, the climate, and forests in the southeastern United States," Wolf asserted. "We cannot let it get a foothold here in California."

The hearing, via the Golden State Natural Resources website, is a forum for public comment on the scope of the upcoming environmental impact review. Opponents are asking the various permitting agencies to reject the projects.

Disclosure: The Partnership for Policy Integrity contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, and Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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