Bancroft on the real costs and dismal returns to Nova Scotians of running the PHP biomass plant 24/7

Why waste it on wildlife when you can burn it?

It had been rumoured that the PHP Biomass plant had returned to 24/7 operation.

Now Bob Bancroft confirms that we are back at it, burning 50 to 60 tractor-trailer loads of wood per day to generate electricity at 21% efficiency…

That’s the same operation that set off the Stop destroying Nova Scotia’s forests for biomass power generation campaign just under two years ago. On April 8, 2016, the NS Government announced that the Nova Scotia Power biomass plant will no longer be required to run 24/7, which the Ecology Action Centre and others called ‘a great first step’ to eliminating biomass…

‘Shouldn’t have been so optimistic folks. In the current version:

An Irving contractor from New Brunswick is bringing at least one hardwood processor into Nova Scotia. Our red and sugar maples are chipped in Nova Scotia and trucked for processing at Irving mills in Sussex and Saint John.

After delivering the maple chips to New Brunswick, trucks are returning loaded with low-grade biomass material to the plant in Point Tupper. This biomass facility is so large that we don’t have enough forest to supply it! The need for trees can’t be fulfilled by seven eastern counties in Nova Scotia, so now our tax dollars will be partially funding the transportation costs.

Maples go to New Brunswick, while our white and yellow birches are being trucked directly to the biomass plant at Point Tupper, where they are chipped in the yard to be burned.

Read more in COMMENTARY: Chipping our forests on the cheap
Bob Bancroft in the Chronicle Herald, Feb 6, 2018

Bob goes into the pitiful returns to the province from the Crown land harvests, their impacts on private operators and the many negative impacts on wildlife and whole ecosystems. Concludes Bancroft:

Taxpayers are cheated while the land is destroyed for generations. It’s time to demand government accountability. Why should public resources be extracted in a manner that undermines private wood suppliers, while pulp companies ignore good forest management practices, eliminating vast hardwood stands and destroying nature with impunity?

Good question.

I have to wonder also if there is some linkage between Red Tape Reduction in Trucking Industries as announced recently and the revving up of biomass harvests with these massive loads criss-crossing our landscape. (View Planning ahead for Industrial forestry in Nova Scotia: allowing bigger trucks on our roads (Post,Jan 28, 2018)

More for the Wise Men of the Independent Review to digest and advise us on, their report now due in only 3 weeks.

ADDENDUM Feb 19, 2018: In online discussions about Bancroft’s article, the question has been asked why is all of this back and forth happening at all. One response: “I believe there is a contractual obligation of the NS Gov’t to supply the biomass plant with softwood chips. We don’t have enough here apparently so this “switcheroo” is happening. Dexter promised PHP more wood than we have for their mill and NSPower has the other promise for their biomass plant. PHP isn’t producing the SW from 2 mills when this deal was hatched, ergo we have to do – something…There looks to be no hope.”

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