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E-M:/ RE: / Are Michigan's "wood to wheels" initiative and wood for electric generation throwing MI Forests under the bus?



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Enviro-Mich message from "Jessica Simons" <jessica.simons@semircd.org>
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Hi Anne,

I wanted to respond to your message regarding the announcement of the
Mascoma cellulosic ethanol plant in the U.P. Much of the recent research
done to identify renewable energy opportunities actually show wood to be one
of the state's most promising options in terms of both sustainability and
technical feasibility.  In fact, the MSU Bioeconomy program has stated that
Michigan's forestland could produce more than 2.5 times its current level of
biomass and still do so sustainably
(http://www.msu.edu/bioeconomy/pdf/forestry%20fnl.pdf).  I apologize in
advance for the length of this message, but I'd like to share the results of
a few other reports and studies in case you might be interested in reading a
bit more on the subject.    

A February 2007 report by Michigan Tech's Dr. Robert Froese, "Biomass,
Biofuels and Bioenergy: Feedstock Opportunities in Michigan," outlines many
of the potential and currently available biomass resources in the state
(http://www.mda.state.mi.us/renewablefuels/documents/biomass_feedstock_michi
gan.pdf).  This report details quantities for many sources of wood --
sawmill residues, logging/thinning residues, urban wood waste, and dedicated
energy crops -- concluding that over ten million dry tons is potentially
available annually.  However, I feel that the most interesting part of this
report is where it lists the over four million dry tons per year of wood
that is "currently available and unutilized" and derived only from "waste"
sources (logging/thinning residues and urban wood waste).  

A 2005 study, conducted in part at MSU and covering fourteen counties in
southeastern Michigan's urban areas, found that at least 7.5 million cu yds
of wood are generated each year from urban tree removals and industrial
residues -- enough to fill 354 football fields 10 ft deep.  Nearly a third
(28%) of this wood is landfilled.  Disposal of this wood costs companies
nearly $9 million each year
(http://semircd.org/ash/research/sherrill_macfarlane_inventory_final.pdf). 

Michigan has lost at least four primary sawmills in the last five years --
Menasha (in Otsego), SAPPI (in Muskegon), GFP (in Hancock), and
Georgia-Pacific (in Gaylord).  According to figures from the MDNR, these
mills collectively used 760,000 cords (~3.5 million cubic yards) of wood
each year.  Where does that go now that the market has disappeared?  What if
we could create a new biofuels market that taps into this same wood resource
and re-employs the people who had once managed those forests?

You asked, "Are Michigan?s forest resources and the state?s laws and
policies regarding sustaining these precious natural resources actually
ready to deal with the state?s encouragement of extensive development of
woody biomass and biofuels from wood?"  While I acknowledge that you
expressed most of your concern for private forestlands, please also realize
that the entire state forest system has been certified since 2005 by the two
leading forest sustainability certification systems in the country, FSC and
SFI.  Traditionally, this type of third-party sustainability certification
has been very difficult for private landowners to obtain, but FSC (which is
generally lauded by conservationists as a very stringent certification
system) has worked in the last few years to create its Family Forests
program (http://www.fscus.org/standards_criteria/family_forests_program.php)
to help promote sustainability among smaller landowners.  We should be
working to encourage this type of sustainable management in our state's
private lands, rather than fearfully steering clear of forest products
entirely. 

Rather than take the news of the Mascoma announcement as a cause for alarm,
I think it should be just one more occasion for us to look for opportunities
that can address concerns about both our state's long-term resource
availability and the tough economic challenges we face.  I agree with you --
the current energy crisis should not be a reason to pillage our resources
with abandon.  However, with conservationists, industry, and government
working TOGETHER, I believe that we can find locally-driven renewable energy
options that truly meet the needs of Michigan.

Regards,
Jessica Simons
Natural Resources Specialist
Southeast Michigan
Resource Conservation & Development Council
7203 Jackson Road
Ann Arbor, MI  48103-9506
Cell: (517)851-2372
Web: www.semircd.org/ash <BLOCKED::http://www.semircd.org/ash> 

 

Jessica Simons
Natural Resources Specialist
Southeast Michigan
Resource Conservation & Development Council
7203 Jackson Road
Ann Arbor, MI  48103-9506
Cell: (517)851-2372
Web: www.semircd.org/ash


 

________________________________

From: owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
[mailto:owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net] On Behalf Of Anne Woiwode
Sent: Friday, June 27, 2008 2:54 PM
To: 'enviro-mich'
Subject: E-M:/ Are Michigan's "wood to wheels" initiative and wood for
electric generation throwing MI Forests under the bus?



Are Michigan?s forest resources and the state?s laws and policies regarding
sustaining these precious natural resources actually ready to deal with the
state?s encouragement of extensive development of woody biomass and biofuels
from wood?  Below is an excerpt from the Governor?s press release today on
the first ?commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant? to be located in the
UP -- what isn?t said but we have to assume is that no one is pretending
anymore that this is just about ?waste wood?.   

 

And since Michigan forest products companies have long fought against any
?forest practices act? for private forest lands, has anyone figured out
whether this is just the leading edge of the second era of timber baron?s
stripping the land?  The Renewable Fuels Commission?s Interim Report talks
about sustainability, but goes to lengths to explain that in their
recommendations that sustainability means a ?balance? of economic, social
and environmental.  Those kinds of ?balances? pretty much always end up with
the state?s future and natural resources on the losing end. Where
?sustainable? shows up in the press release below is not in a commitment to
assure that the forests committed to this will be managed sustainably -- it
is just in the buzzwords that are thrown in as comfort food for the ears of
concerned conservationists. 

 

Does anyone else see the irony of cutting our forests so SUV, ATV,
snowmobile and other drivers can drive through cut over forestlands using
cellulosic ethanol?  How can it be that the greatest value to the state from
our forest resources (which are still, by the way, recovering from the
timber barons of the late 19th/early 20th centuries) is to burn or distill
the wood so we can maintain unsustainable energy consumption levels?  Heck,
Michiganders have traditionally fought all efforts to raise CAFÉ standards
for automobiles -- where is the commitment up front to stop wasting fuel and
electricity before we say ?yah? to electric generation and cellulosic
ethanol from our forests?

 

With this commitment and others that are undoubtedly lined up, is the
administration choosing to shut the door on higher, better uses with more
value added of the woods in our state?  A boom/bust cycle tied to a
thoughtless process of committing our forests to be burned or fermented
doesn?t sound like a plan that will help anyone long term. Undoubtedly the
first response here will be to say that of course there is concern about
actual sustainability.  So why isn?t THAT said anywhere in the policies
affecting the 12 million acres of private forestlands in the state today,
nor in a press release like this??  

 

http://www.michigan.gov/som/0,1607,7-192--195123--,00.html 

 

	 

	
 

	 

	
 

	
________________________________


Granholm Says Mascoma Agreement Puts Michigan at Forefront of Next
Generation Fuels 

________________________________

 

	
June 27, 2008 

 

Historic investment set for production facility in U.P.'s Chippewa County 

 

LANSING - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm and Mascoma Corporation CEO Bruce A.
Jamerson today announced that the Massachusetts-based company has entered
into a series of key strategic relationships to further Mascoma's efforts to
build its first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Michigan's
Upper Peninsula. 

 

Agreements with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), JM
Longyear, and alliances formed with Michigan State University (MSU) and
Michigan Technological University (MTU) will help bring the plant to
Chippewa County, south of Sault Ste. Marie, where clean-burning, fuel-grade
ethanol will be produced from wood fiber.  The agreements build on Mascoma's
decision announced last July to locate in Michigan. 

 

"Long before the current run-up in petroleum prices, we declared Michigan's
intention to lead the nation in alternative energy production and help
reduce our dependence on foreign oil," Granholm said.  "Mascoma's next
generation biomass-to-ethanol technologies are integral to wide-scale
ethanol production, and this plant will put Michigan on the leading edge of
technology that will create good-paying jobs for Michigan citizens." 

 

Mascoma's single-step cellulose-to-ethanol method, called consolidated
bioprocessing, or CBP, uses advanced technologies to make ethanol from
non-food based renewable sources such as wood chips and other biomass.  The
clean-energy technology is critical to producing ethanol more quickly,
efficiently and economically.  

 

Mascoma chose Michigan for its first commercial-scale facility based on the
vast sustainable forests and agricultural materials available and the
expertise provided by JM Longyear.  In addition, Mascoma will collaborate
with MSU and MTU to develop and hone scientific processes that utilize
Michigan feedstocks for cellulosic ethanol production. 

 

"Working with the state of Michigan, two of its leading universities, and JM
Longyear on this significant project brings us closer to commercial scale
production of biofuels that can promote energy independence, reduce
greenhouse gas emissions, and stimulate regional economic development,"
Jamerson said. 

 

SNIP

	

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anne M. Woiwode, State Director

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter - 109 E. Grand River Avenue, Lansing, MI 48906
- 517-484-2372    anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org
<mailto:anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>  

Visit us at http://michigan.sierraclub.org/index.shtml
<http://michigan.sierraclub.org/index.shtml>  

 

Act Today: Join our Legislative Alerts System!
http://mackinac.sierraclubaction.org <http://mackinac.sierraclubaction.org>


Act FOR Tomorrow: Support the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter - contact Wendi
Tilden at wendi.tilden@sierraclub.org <mailto:wendi.tilden@sierraclub.org>  

 

"The idea of shifting to a carbon-free society appears to be technically
feasible. The question is whether it's politically feasible or economically
feasible."

Brian O'Neil, National Center for Atmospheric Research 

 



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