Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wrapping Up 2011, Reinventing Yourself, and Finding Balance

Above: City of Olympia Mayor Doug Mah, left, speaks with incoming city councilmember Nathaniel Jones, middle, and incoming mayor Stephen Buxbaum after the December 16th ribbon cutting of the new playground at Percival Landing in downtown Olympia.

by Janine Unsoeld

"What are the best cities to start over in so you could reinvent yourself?"

Ah...don't we all ask that question of ourselves from time to time. That question is just one of my favorite (unpublished) comments that I received this past year in response to a story posted on my blog. My answer is that Olympia is certainly one of the best places.

Little did I realize in May when I accepted a couple of new caregiving jobs that I wouldn't be able to keep up with my blog, Janine's Little Hollywood. For several months, my hours often totalled 80 plus hours a week. I know these kind of hours are not unusual for many people in our community. Paid and unpaid, we have an abundance of dedicated people who devote their time, energy and talents doing great work. But it's taken me some time to admit: I can't do it all. At least, not all at the same time.

Some know that I am a caregiver for seniors, and that is what I do to pay my mortgage and bills, and support my family. While my hours have tapered off recently, I still work fulltime and am immensely devoted to my wonderful clients for as long as they will have me in their service.

It's clear my stories have been missed, and your concerns have been appreciated! Many want me to continue what I love to do for my community - capturing special moments, documenting meetings, and covering controversies through my writing and photography. Thank you!

I've heard via email from a former Olympian who now lives in Maine, and relied on my reporting to know what was really going on in Olympia. A local businessperson in Olympia called me, and dreadfully convinced herself that I had been seriously injured on my new scooter (see the South Sound Green Pages president's message, Summer 2011, at No such accident occurred. And just last night, another concerned citizen who appreciates my work wondered if I was a trust fund hippie who really didn't need to write to earn a living. I explained to her that I earn very little income from my blog and other community endeavors, and no, I am not a trust fund hippie. I did graduate from Evergreen though.

So, while - at this time - I can't attend meetings like I used to, it does not mean I am no less informed about what's going on. I have stayed active and informed in a variety of ways. If anything, I have become more informed about what's going on in the lives of many hardworking people throughout the South Sound. I have a lot of story ideas, and will get to them as I can, especially with your continued positive feedback and financial support for independent journalism. So keep your emails and story ideas coming, please.

Life is about balance and remembering to have fun along the way. Keeping that in mind as we head into 2012, I wish you all peace and happiness, and oh yes, fulfilling employment and volunteer work, affordable healthcare and education, food and shelter, accessible social services and resources, environmental and economic justice, and equal rights for all.

So, for now, here's a few snapshots of what I've been up to since May. Enjoy!

Above: Golden Paintbrush at the West Rocky Prairie property in Maytown. The tour of the property was sponsored by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. For the story, see the Summer 2011 issue of the South Sound Green Pages at

Above: A resident at Patriot's Landing in Dupont enjoys fun and games at a July 4th community celebration.

Above: Janine enters a few photographs at the Thurston County Fair in August and wins a few ribbons.

Above: Percival Landing sports a few familiar names.

Above: Christie Krueger, second from left, is one of several volunteers to graduate in October from SIDEWALK's first class of trained advocates and greeters for Olympia's new homeless intake center. Phil Owen of Bread and Roses is at the podium. For more information, go to

Above: Sous Chef Leroy Keener prepares fabulous meals at Mercato Ristorante in downtown Olympia.

Above: Mt. Rainier at sunrise in October.

Above: Janine reaches Camp Muir (10,188 feet) on Mt. Rainier in October.

Above: Olympians on the steps of the Capitol Building in November express their opposition to the Keystone pipeline .

Above: Finding balance, love and joy, Janine Gates and Krag Unsoeld are married on December 9th.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Olympia Planning Commission Hears Quixote Village Testimony: "We're Not Helping 'Those People' - We're Helping Each Other...."

Above: The proposed Quixote Village. The model was created by students at The Evergreen State College.

by Janine Gates

Over 30 people spoke to Olympia Planning Commissioners and a standing room only crowd tonight at a public hearing regarding community efforts for Camp Quixote, a temporary camp for the homeless, to become a permanent encampment, called Quixote Village. The hearing was conducted at Olympia's new city hall and lasted two hours.

The public hearing addressed two aspects: extend the time limit from 90 days to 120 days for a temporary homeless encampment to be allowed to stay in a given location, and determine zoning code amendments to land development regulations for the proposed encampment. Their recommendations will be forwarded to the Olympia city council for their consideration.

A permanent homeless encampment is currently not a listed use within the city's zoning code. Last November, the Olympia City Council directed staff to expedite zoning code amendments to the Planning Commission that would allow a permanent homeless encampment.

Camp Quixote began as a protest in 2007 on city-owned property in downtown Olympia. When police moved in to disperse the group, First United Methodist Church offered them sanctuary. Now, seven local congregations host the camp on a 90-day rotation schedule. It is currently at United Churches on 11th Avenue and Capitol Way, near the Capitol Campus, having just moved on Thursday from First Christian Church.

Educators, social service workers, camp volunteers, home builders, community and church leaders, students, and Camp Quixote residents presented the commissioners with a variety of compelling and articulate personal stories in support of the village. Many provided commissioners moving testimony of how they came to be homeless in Thurston County.

Thurston County Commissioner Cathy Wolfe spoke on behalf of all three commissioners, stating that they are "100 percent behind this effort. It's efficient, economically feasible and environmentally sensitive....It's a model for the rest of the county...please move it forward. This is the best proposal we've seen in a long time," said Wolfe.

The proposed permanent homeless encampment is on Thurston County owned property in the Mottman Industrial District. Thurston County has donated the two acre parcel of land for the proposed village.

Quixote Village would contain 30 permanent dwellings with communal use of bathrooms, showers, laundry, dining, and other facilities. Community vegetable, herb and flower gardens are also proposed for the area.

Jill Severn, chair of the non-profit Panza committee, was the first speaker, saying that Quixote Village would address our basic values of a "safe, strong sense of community that is environmentally sustainable." The village, she said, will be safe, beautiful, and walkable, with warm and dry cottages.

Her sentiments were echoed by the remaining speakers except for a couple property owners adjacent to the property, who said they were just notified of the proposal this last week.

John Peranzi, who lives near the property, and his attorney, Robert Casey, who also spoke, said this is the wrong place for this encampment and that the city has limited industrial area, which feeds a job base. He said that trucks are in and out at 7 a.m. Trucks that are put in reverse produce a loud beeping sound that could disrupt residents.

"Quixote Village is a residential use and the comprehensive plan prohibits residential use next to an industrial use with few exceptions," said Casey. Casey submitted a seven page letter to commissioners that one commissioner said she received earlier this evening. Peranzi and his attorney urged that should the village be approved, that additional conditions be imposed. "This proposal puts the cart before the horse. It requires a change in the comprehensive plan, and legally, that's not happening or proposed," said Casey.

Tony Cairone, who lives directly across from the proposed village, said he bought his property in 1978 and developed it in 1986. He said the process is "a little daft."

"It is 24/7 industrial...I own property on South Bay Road that I'd give you if you wanted it, but no body's asked me. Is there a plan to block this thing? I'll find out. The Planning Commission blew it - we should have been notified about this a long time ago - I don't want to prevent these people from a place to live, but it doesn't belong here."

John Kotola, president and chair of the EcoBuilding Guild, said that as a long-time business owner in the area, he's driven by the property for the last 11 years and it's an eyesore. "The encampment would be a definite improvement."

Chris VanDaalen, education chair coordinator for the EcoBuilding Guild said that Camp Quixote residents work well together, and have a strong code of conduct.

"The village is not an encampment, but a permanent village for low income people, because once this is built, they won't be homeless. Once it's built, it's a place where I'd want to live....I'm inspired by it. It has transformed the community's relationship with its homeless...."

Tinamarie Swihart said she has been a resident of Camp Quixote for two months. "We're a family, we care for each other, help each other. Our hosts talk with us, listen to us...."

Swihart said she lost her job, was hit by a car, and is now disabled. "Not all of us choose to be homeless...We do show respect and honor. We are not a danger or a threat just because we are homeless. We want to be active members of society. I did help, pay my taxes, donate to my church. I am worthwhile and special because I'm alive. I love Camp Quixote."

Another resident, Lucas Riedler, said he has lived in Washington for four years, and served in the U.S. Marine Corps and the Washington National Guard. A diagnosis of a psychiatric disability and knee surgery a year ago started his path to homelessness.

"I work part-time, and if it wasn't for Camp Quixote, that wouldn't be possible." Riedler said it's hard to hold a job when you're trying to meet your basic needs, like trying to find out where to take a shower or go to the bathroom. "Camp Quixote has been a blessing for me," said Riedler.

Another homeless person, Sheran Creed, lives at the Bread and Roses women's shelter on Eighth Avenue in Olympia and described her path to homelessness. After a broken relationship in which she was thrown out and unable to get her belongings back, she was in a car accident and is now on medication due to a cognitive disorder.

"It takes me all day to catch a bus, go to the doctor's office, and go to social services. Before homelessness, I was used to cars and planes, not buses and trains." She supported the efforts to create a Quixote Village. "Push, push hard - these people deserve it. They have no mailbox, no address, no way for DSHS or doctors to contact them. This means a lot - it's a leg up. It's a possibility."

Above: Olympia Planning Commissioner Roger Horn stands in a nearly complete home designed to be mobile so it can travel with Camp Quixote from church to church. The homes were on display for the South Sound Green Tour last month in downtown Olympia. The tour was sponsored by the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild.

Several volunteers for Camp Quixote also spoke.

Jeff Loyer says he started volunteering with Camp Quixote because he owns a trailer. "Helping people move leads to a compassionate life," Loyer said, to chuckles from the audience.

"This (village) is an opportunity to do something unique - we have to be creative, and challenge day to day thoughts. I move them and I look at the turmoil in their souls." Loyer urged the commissioners to extend the time limit for moving from place to place to 120 days.

"It's a reasonable compromise. Camp Quixote works - you just have to visit it a couple times and you see that it's working - they aren't sitting around being lazy. A permanent camp would be viable and attractive."

Matt Newton, an instructor with YouthBuild, teaches construction skills to 28 at-risk youth at New Market Skills Center in Tumwater. His students have helped build three little homes - prototypes built to be portable - which were recently on display at the South Sound Green Home tour last month in Olympia.

"They have insulation, a heater, a light bulb, an outlet, a skylight, different than most of your homes, except that it's the size of your walk-in closet." Newton described the pride his students felt being part of the tour.

"Quixote Village is about building community where there wasn't one before."

Arthur Vaeni, pastor at Unitarian Universalist Church in Olympia, which has hosted the camp several times, said that he supports transforming Camp Quixote to Quixote Village.

"One of the things I'm concerned about is legitimatizing tent cities by continuing Camp Quixote in this form. Right from the start, they had a vision to have a village. I have found that it is best to listen to those who need help, and help them help themselves."

An architect, Garner Miller, said he has donated his services to the Quixote Village proposal. "I thought it was really important - I wanted to make sure the residents had a voice. In this series of workshops with the camp, groups of residents with pens, paper, and scissors laid out a facility site plan that you have in your packet. The county site will be great. If the land wasn't available, I don't think it'd be viable.

Miller said some may ask why there aren't apartments in the site plan. "That's not how these residents want to live...."

John Redfern, another volunteer, says he hasn't lived in Olympia long because he's in the military, but he and his wife are avid supporters of Camp Quixote.

Redfern said it's taken several years of self-discovery and a deployment to Afghanistan to realize that "there are no differences in people around the world. They've helped me discover that more. We're not helping 'those people' - we're helping each other. We're fragile. It doesn't take much to put us there (at Camp Quixote). It could happen to any of us at any time. Who knows - we could be there tomorrow, and they could be giving us a hand up," said Redfern.

Commission Chair Roger Horn said that the commission will deliberate the testimony at its next meeting, May 16. The meeting will be held at Olympia City Hall, 601 4th Avenue East, and begin at 6:30 p.m.

For more information about Camp Quixote and the proposal for the village, contact Steve Friddle, city of Olympia community services manager at (360) 753-8591. Written comments will be accepted until the close of business on Friday, May 6, and may be directed to the Olympia Planning Commission and sent to PO Box 1967, Olympia, WA 98507. Email for general Planning Commission topics: Put Attn: Planning Commission in the subject line or at the top of your message.

Above: Olympia Planning Commissioner Roger Horn speaks with student home builder Tyler White, 18, inside a Quixote Village home at the South Sound Green Tour last month. White attended tonight's public hearing about Quixote Village. He says he started building the tiny homes last December through YouthBuild, a program for at-risk youth. White says YouthBuild helped him get back on track with school and get job experience.

Asked what he likes most about building the houses, White says he really liked showing the houses at the South Sound Green Tour. "Getting my confidence up so that I could talk with people was an awesome experience."

White now has a landscaping job, but will continue building houses with YouthBuild. His teacher, Matt Newton, spoke at tonight's hearing. For more information about YouthBuild, go to

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lights, Camera, Action! Olympia City Council Meets In New City Hall

by Janine Gates

Above: Olympia City Councilmember Jeannine Roe is happy with the adjustment of her new chair just prior to the beginning of the first council meeting in Olympia's new city hall at 601 Fourth Avenue East.

Standing: Cathie Butler, city communications director. Left to right: Councilmembers Stephen Buxbaum, Jeannine Roe, Rhenda Strub, Mayor Doug Mah, Craig Ottavelli, Karen Rogers, and Steve Langer. KOMO TV covered the first meeting in the new city hall and nine citizens addressed councilmembers on a variety of issues. For more information about city business, go to or call (360) 753-8447.

Above: Daniel Furrer was the first person to address Olympia city councilmembers at the new city hall Tuesday night. He reported that 267 volunteers will be participating in Saturday's downtown clean up, efforts sponsored by the Olympia Downtown Association.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

First Day of Spring Brings Community Celebration, Healing, and Remembrance

by Janine Gates

In downtown Olympia today, community members celebrated the first day of Spring in a variety of ways that offered hope, celebration, healing and remembrance.

Hope and Celebration

Gita Moulton has coordinated an annual bubble blowing event at Percival Landing celebrating the first day of Spring for the last 18 years. Only one year the event did not occur, when the United States bombed Iraq in 2003. She did not feel like celebrating, she says. A flyer for the activity says the event is sponsored by People Who Know We Live In A Great Place.

Today, kids of all ages arrived on Percival Landing bundled up against the cold, not quite Spring-like weather, and used a variety of wands and bubble-making elixirs - all provided - and let their bubbles catch the wind. For some, like former Olympia mayor Bob Jacobs and his family, the event is an annual activity.

Above: Former Olympia mayor Bob Jacobs and his family celebrated Spring today on Percival Landing.

Passers-by are welcomed to participate. Eli Sterling of Procession of the Species, another harbinger of Spring, set up windsocks that added to the celebratory atmosphere of hope for the future.


Another event held nearby, coordinated by the Pacific Northwest Medicine Wheel Ceremony, honored people of all Nations. Participants came forth with their sacred prayers, songs, and dances to heal Mother Earth and warmed themselves by a fire in the center of a ring of dancers, and later enjoyed food and warm beverages.

Above: An alter created to focus prayers and thoughts was provided at Heritage Park by participants of the Pacific Northwest Medicine Wheel Ceremony.


Nearby, in a remembrance of those killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a memorial was set up to represent the desire for peace and reconciliation. The markers, which resemble tombstones, are for the civilians whose deaths have been documented to be a result of the US-led invasion that began March 19, 2003.

Above: Gita Moulton today at Percival Landing. Although Gita says she's ready to pass the bubble wands on to someone else to continue the bubble-blowing tradition, I, for one, urged Gita that Olympia needs her to continue the tradition to help us realize there's always a reason to celebrate the coming of Spring. Thank you Gita!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Olympia GLBT Eldercare Project Launched

Olympia GLBT ElderCare Project Launched

By Janine Gates

When Anna Schlect and her partner needed to take care of her partner’s mother, the issue of aging and GLBT elder issues were brought home to her. She decided that Olympia needed to recognize this issue and help GLBT elders.

As a result, the Olympia Eldercare Project is a pending “SAGE” affiliate. Founded in 1978, SAGE is the world’s oldest and largest non-profit agency addressing the needs of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) elders with about 15 affiliates nationwide.

The next meeting of the emerging local group is Tuesday, February 22, 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. in the Evergreen Plaza Building, 711 Capital Way South, second floor conference room, Olympia. An hour-long film “Gen Silent” will be shown during the meeting.

The group’s strategy is to tap local experts in eldercare who are GLBT and/or GLBT friendly and will work on education, fundraising, networking and outreach, referrals, research, and ultimately, explore local housing options.

Speaking to those gathered at the recent launching of the group, Schlect described the need for this new organization:

“Success in gay rights will be when our friends and neighbors recognize our daily presence throughout the community, including our work in senior services and housing. We have something important to offer, because across the board, senior service organizations are facing an "elder boom" that will overwhelm the existing network of services.

“As a society, we need to develop new models of care and housing for our elders. That's the value that GLBT organizations bring - if necessity is the mother of all invention, then discrimination is the Auntie of a heck of a lot of innovation. GLBT people know how to build resources out of adversity. We did it with HIV/AIDS, and we did it to build equal rights laws across the nation and employment policies in private sector. Working together, we can build the new models of care, housing and building community. That is what we in SAGE are passionately interested in doing,” says Schlect.

The key issue is education for local providers about GLBT issues, one-on-one mentoring of elders, and uncovering natural allies the GLBT community may not even know about.

“Where can I live? Where can my friend live? What are my resources? Those are our immediate goals,” says Schlect.

Beth Johnson and her partner are ambassadors of the group, serving as part of the networking committee.

“What are we going to do when we need care?” Johnson says, about her and her partner. About the group, Johnson says, “We don’t want to create a parallel network - our needs are the same as anyone else’s.”

The group hopes to be a clearinghouse for information and walk family members through the eldercare process. Group members are currently researching what people’s local experiences are - not to create a "bad" list - but to see where more work is needed to build relationships.

Partnering With Other Local Organizations

Kelly Cavenah is the local franchise owner and operater of Home Instead, a private care giving registry. She met Schlect at a Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) meeting about four or five years ago. They started talking about an eldercare project and held a panel discussion last year to talk about elder needs.

“There are people who are GLBT friendly and others who have not yet looked into their hearts about it yet,” says Kelly Cavanah.

Senior Services of South Sound is also a community partner with the group. Patrick Coolen, deputy director of Senior Services says, “We look for this to be a growing program in the community. Senior Services has always been committed to offering service to seniors without discrimination.”

Dawn Gilliam, Inclusion Coordinator at Senior Services, has a GLBT clientele. She is responsible for support services, community inclusion and activities for the 26 seniors currently in the program, which is partially funded with a grant from the Thurston County Developmental Disability.

Gilliam says, “I love my job - it’s the best job in the world because I get to help people - I do something meaningful every day.” Gilliam says she has worked really hard to get the lingo right so it’s not a label.

“It’s better to say, for example, a senior with a developmental disability rather than a developmentally disabled senior. The way we say things is important.”

Gilliam says one GLBT client of hers passed away recently. Openly gay and alone, Gilliam helped him get the dentistry care he needed prior to heart surgery and through a lot of red tape and paperwork. Not only that, she personally transported him to and from appointments and the hospital.

“He was one of those people who slipped through the cracks. Although he had been part of this community for years, he had no idea of the gay community. His life would have been so much different if he had had more support.”

About the GLBT Eldercare Project group, Gilliam says, “I’m excited this program has started. We need it so bad. It’s not easy to find the resources.”

Tony Sermonti, chair of Capital City Pride, recently presented Senior Services and Home Instead with awards, thanking them for their efforts in support of GLBT elders in the Thurston County area through programs and services.

Capital City Pride, an event that has grown to over 10,000 people, will be a two day festival this year, June 11-12.

“Gen Silent”

The unique demographics of GLBT elders make them highly vulnerable to slipping through the cracks. Social security and veterans make up the largest revenue stream for elders, and yet, due to discriminatory laws, many same-sex couples cannot draw upon their partner’s pensions and benefits. Members of the GLBT community also typically do not have children, and do not have a good relationship with their family of origin.

“Baby boomers now outnumber their children. Children get you to appointments and are your advocate. This is one way to look at it as a family issue. We need to accept and embrace youth, and continue to strengthen our relationship with GLBT youth,” said Schlect.

A growing number of films highlight senior issues, including “Gen Silent” by producer Stu Maddux. Released last year, the film follows five households as they face eldercare issues. The group played the powerful film trailer during a recent meeting.

“You just know when they don’t want you there,” says a GLBT elder in the film about a nursing home. The film features GLBT elders, some of whom have been out of the closet for years and are forced to go back into the closet when faced with the fate of entering an unwelcoming nursing home for care.

“We want this film to change hearts and minds…we need to treat all our elders with respect and dignity,” said Cavenah.

Schlect said it was a matter of discussion whether or not to extend the local organization’s reach beyond Thurston County.

“Our goal is to do what we do well. We can’t go beyond Thurston County right now, but we hope to in the future. Our philosophy is to slowly and methodically build relationships. My ultimate goal is to create GLBT friendly housing and have it serve as a model for how it can and should be across the county. We have to work smart and slow - we’re committed.” In New York, SAGE is responsible for creating hundreds of housing units for the GLBT community.

The group is looking for funding and is grateful that the Olympia Rainbow Center, a local 501 c3, gave the group a small start-up grant. Checks to support the group's efforts can be made out to the Olympia Rainbow Center and mailed to: Olympia Rainbow Center, PO Box 7221, Olympia, WA 98507-7221. Be sure to put "GLBT Eldercare Project" in the memo section of your check. Donations are tax-deductible.

For more information: Anna Schlect,, 943-7469 or Kelly Cavenah,, 570-0049.

Regarding parking for the February 22 meeting: The guest parking entrance is located on the south side of the building. Look for a red clearance beam. Park in an unreserved spot. If no spots are available, there is parking available along Capitol Way as well as behind the building. Do not park in a reserved spot or you will be towed.

Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE): 305 Seventh Avenue, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10001, (212) 741-2247 or

National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, a project of SAGE:

To view the film trailer for “Gen Silent,” go to:

Senior Services for South Sound: 222 Columbia St. NW, Olympia, Washington 98501, 586-6181 or

Olympia Rainbow Center:

Other upcoming local GLBT events:

Pride honors Stonewall Youth
Thursday, Feb 24, 5:30 p.m.,
UCAN Community Room/CoLab, 317 4th Ave. East, downtown Olympia
Free parking after 5 p.m. Light appetizers and refreshments

Please join us! As a part of Pride's 20th Anniversary series of community events, we honor Stonewall Youth as an integral part of our community and 20 years of partnership between Stonewall and Capital City Pride.

Pride Annual Sunday Brunch & Dessert Auction
Sunday, Feb 27, noon - 2 p.m.
Ramblin Jack's event room
520 4th Ave. East, downtown Olympia

Complimentary champagne & orange juice and a special menu from 'Jacks. This annual, casual and very fun event features desserts! Local celebrity auctioneer Carol Watson will emcee. Bring your friends! Win fabulous things! Support the 20th Anniversary of Capital City Pride! For more information, contact Anna Schlect at 943-7469.

There are lots of other Pride events coming up! Pride Idol shows take place the second Saturday of every month. So You Think You Can Drag is in March @ Jake's on 4th Ave. Go to for more information.

Editor's Note/Full Disclosure: Janine Gates is proud to be a GLBT friendly caregiver for seniors and works as an independent contractor through Senior Services for South Sound.

Lots of fun and dancing at 2009's Capital City Pride in downtown Olympia.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

DNR Biomass Report to Legislature Challenged by Scientists, Activists

Above: New biomass activist Nate Johnson is interviewed by local reporter Mike Coday.

DNR Biomass Report to Legislature Challenged by Scientists, Activists

by Janine Gates

Biomass activists and some guerrilla theatre came to the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today in downtown Olympia. Protesters highlighted a recent letter sent to state legislators by climate scientists refuting DNR's recent biomass report and hoped to personally serve Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark a "cease and desist order" to stop all state biomass projects.

Nate Johnson, who works nearby, came to participate in the protest. He lives in Mason County and said he just became aware of the biomass issue a couple weeks ago when he attended the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency's (ORCAA) hearing on the proposed Adage facility and listened to public testimony for three hours.

"What I learned about the biomass issue convinced me to resist it....the health risks aren't understood...and there's no history of humans showing restraint in using the supply. We're poor stewards of the land. Twenty years from now, I don't think we'll be looking at this as a positive chapter."

Johnson is also a 2002 graduate of The Evergreen State College, and expressed concern about the college's proposed biomass gasification facility.

February is Not For Love Letters: Activists, Scientists Challenge DNR

Duff Badgley, who recently had a biomass opinion piece published in The Seattle Times on February 7, was dressed in a mock-police uniform as an "Earth Cop" to serve Goldmark the "cease and desist" order. Goldmark was unavailable, so the order was delivered to DNR supervisor Leonard Young.

Goldmark, in response to Badgley's editorial, had his own published by the Seattle Times on February 11.

In another war of words, three internationally acclaimed climate scientists have refuted DNR's recent biomass report to the Legislature and policies supported by Washington Governor Gregoire and Goldmark. The letter, written directly to all members of the Washington State Legislature, was not directly addressed to Goldmark or his agency.

At a recent meeting at DNR between DNR representatives and Olympia area anti-biomass activists, key parts of the letter were read to DNR policy director Craig Partridge, who said he was aware of the letter. Partridge welcomed civil dialogue, and said he would speak to Goldmark about their concerns.

Bonnie Phillips, who runs a regional biomass list serv, said her message was simple: carbon neutrality, and concerns about health and fuel supply issues. Partridge agreed with her, saying "those priorities are absolutely on our minds as well, and we probably share a lot of your values and perspectives...."

Activist Pat Rasmussen, in that same meeting, told Partridge, "This is not a movement of environmentalists, it's average, everyday people. It's not the same scenario as a year ago. These are people scared about their health and their children's health...this is a people's movement."

Phillips agreed, saying, "I've been astonished at how people are being educated and educating themselves."

The letter by scientists Mark Harmon, Timothy Searchinger and William Moomaw, in response to DNR's report to the legislature, is available at

Mark Harmon, a professor at Oregon State University who came to The Evergreen State College (TESC) in Olympia to speak on carbon neutrality last November, is one of the scientists the TESC Sustainability Council hopes to tap to do research into its own biomass gasification feasibility study.

Searchinger is a research scholar and lecturer at Princeton University and Transatlantic Fellow, The German Marshall Fund of the United States. William Moomaw is a professor of International Environmental Policy at Tufts University.

Their letter expresses great concern about the accuracy of DNR's report, strongly challenging DNR's approach to carbon accounting.

"A critical conclusion of the report is that biomass of all kinds, including harvested trees that would otherwise remain standing, should be treated as a "carbon neutral" fuel, an assumption the authors ascribe to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). However, this conclusion is based on a misinterpretation of IPCC accounting, and is inconsistent with the best science of forest carbon accounting."

The letter also states, "The amount of new biomass generation currently proposed in Washington would amount to less than one percent of the state's electricity generating capacity. Yet even this relatively small amount of power generation seems likely to put new demands on Washington's forests and their delivery of multiple ecosystem services, including timber. This will transfer standing forest carbon into the atmosphere, thereby increasing carbon emissions from Washington's power sector. Simply declaring biomass power to be carbon neutral does not make it so."

Yesterday, at Enviromental Lobby Day in Olympia, Goldmark addressed about 500 people who gathered at a nearby church prior to meeting with their local legislators to speak with them about a variety of environmental issues. In his comments, Goldmark expressed concern about the scale and inefficiency of the proposed Adage biomass facility in Mason County, while also expressing his commitment to biomass.

Taking a glance from the fourth floor at the demonstrators gathered in the DNR lobby today, Bryan Flint, DNR director of communications, commented, "It's democracy in action."

Above: The DNR interior lobby, from the fourth floor.

For more information about biomass issues, see other articles on this blog at

'Views on 5th Hotel' Land Use Application Approved by City

File photo: A quiet Spring morning along a then-unfenced Capitol Lake, before we knew about New Zealand mud snails, and the proposed 'Views on 5th Hotel' building, seen here.

By Janine Gates

'Views on 5th Hotel' Land Use Application Approved by City

The vacant downtown Olympia office building best known as "The Mistake on the Lake," and the former Capital Center Building, now known as "Views on 5th Hotel," was given land use approval and a state environmental policy act (SEPA) determination of nonsignificance, according to city planning and development department manager Todd Stamm.

There is a public comment period, which closes Wednesday, March 2, at 5:00 p.m.

The nine-story, 75,000 square foot building is proposed to be converted from an office building to a hotel with up to 140 rooms.

According to the land use approval notice, the city has determined that "this action probably will not have a significant adverse impact upon the environment," and an environmental impact statement is not required. The environmental review and SEPA threshold determination was based on the application submitted by architect Glenn Wells, on behalf of a Seattle-based applicant on December 1, 2010.

For more information about the hotel application, see original story on December 1 at

The application was approved on February 16 by the city's site plan review committee. The only application condition the committee specified is that, prior to occupancy, the applicant will install a bicycle parking facility for guests. If the hotel is to include public meeting rooms, public bicycle parking must also be provided.

Wells, the architect for the proposed hotel, says the project is a "go" once the comment and appeal period has expired. The project is moving ahead in the permitting process. Wells says that there isn't anything particularly unusual about the project, but (Stamm) wanted the applicant to submit a land use SEPA checklist because "he wanted to do everything right."

Stamm, who is also the lead SEPA official for the project, agrees.

"Very few rules apply in commercial to commercial building interior remodels. What was unique about this project is that proposed remodels are usually much smaller," said Stamm. Stamm also acknowledged that there is great public interest in this particular building and its location.

When asked about traffic considerations, for example, both Wells and Stamm agreed that peak hour trips are fewer with a hotel, as compared to an office building. According to an analysis by Dave Smith, city transportation staff, an office building there would generate about 135 trips per hour, as compared to an estimated 100 or less trips per hour generated by a hotel. Traffic generated by a hotel is dispersed at different times, too, as opposed to an office building.

In an interview late today, Jerry Reilly, chair of the Olympia Capitol Park Foundation, said that while he has not had a chance to review the land use notice just issued, "this is not simply a normal location - the building has a long history of public concern." The Olympia Capitol Park Foundation is raising funds to acquire a portion of the isthmus between Budd Inlet and Capitol Lake for a public park.

Public comment on this application, Project #10-0140, can be directed to Todd Stamm, Planning Manager , City of Olympia Community Planning and Development, PO Box 1967, Olympia, Washington 98507-1967, or, (360) 753-8597.

The comment deadline is March 2, 2011, 5:00 p.m. The appeal deadline is March 9, 2011, 5:00 p.m.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

County Commissioners Maintain Biomass Moratorium

by Janine Gates

County Commissioners Maintain Biomass Moratorium

Thurston County commissioners Sandra Romero, Cathy Wolfe and Karen Valenzuela today maintained their year-long moratorium on new biomass facilities. The commissioner's decision took just minutes - all quickly agreed that they didn't hear anything during Monday night's public hearing that would persuade them to change their minds and lift the moratorium.

Valenzuela said she just attended a meeting of the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA) and questions were posed to her about the difference between incineration and gasification that she was unable to answer in detail.

Instead of referring the issue immediately to the Thurston County Planning Commission, the commissioners will form a technical advisory group of interested parties. Suggested participants would include the Thurston-Mason County Medical Society, state agencies, The Evergreen State College, and a group concerned with biomass issues, Concerned Citizens of Thurston County, to continue the dialogue and address the commissioner's outstanding questions. Group membership and the parameters of the continued conversation will be determined at a later date.

"Evergreen is a big player in this...we're flailing by ourselves right now and this all part of the learning process," said Commissioner Romero.

Some interested state agency and college representatives were in the audience, observing the meeting. Afterwards, when asked by county associate planner Jeremy Davis if they could participate in future discussions, some agreed, albeit reluctantly. Most expressed a need to know more about the scope of the discussions and what time commitment was to be expected.

The commissioners will meet with representatives of the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) on March 3 for a briefing on their permitting process.

For more information about the biomass facility moratorium, see other articles on this blog at

Monday, February 7, 2011

"Courageous" County Commissioners Hear Biomass Testimony

“Courageous” County Commissioners Hear Biomass Testimony

By Janine Gates

The word “courageous” was repeated over and over in public testimony tonight to describe the Thurston County commissioner’s action in late December to adopt an emergency ordinance for a one year moratorium on new biomass facilities.

Commissioners Karen Valenzuela, Sandra Romero and Cathy Wolfe heard testimony from tens of community members, several of whom came from Mason County, where the proposed Adage biomass facility is in a permitting process.

Over a period of several days last week, the commissioners, who also serve as the county board of health, heard biomass related information provided by state agencies, The Evergreen State College, and a citizen’s group concerned with the environmental, economic and public health consequences of Evergreen’s proposed biomass facility.

Of the 45 people who testified in support of the moratorium, two spoke directly in support of lifting the moratorium. The county staff recommendation is in support of affirming the moratorium ordinance and referring the issue to the Thurston County Planning Commission.

The Evergreen State College, which is currently studying a proposal to build a biomass gasification facility, has not yet submitted an application to the county.

Alicia Le Duc, an Olympia resident studying energy and sustainability in The Evergreen State College’s master in public administration program, said she has spent about 200 hours of research on the biomass issue. Le Duc said her father has worked at TransAlta coal plant in Centralia her whole life. Her sister has worked there too, and both have health issues. She supports Evergreen’s efforts to get off fossil fuels and has looked into the alternatives.

“I have done my homework and I’m willing to provide it,” she said. “The biomass facility is the best option, most economically feasible, and uses natural, local resources.”

Phil Shulte, president of a westside neighborhood association, spoke for himself, stating that fossil fuels are an unsustainable resource.

Above: Patrina Walker signs in to testify tonight at the Thurston County Commissioner's public hearing on their biomass moratorium ordinance.

“We All Share The Air”

Several Mason County residents praised the commissioners for doing what they say Mason County commissioners did not do: represent the people.

Patrina Walker, of Mason County, has owned a business at the Olympia Farmer’s Market for 23 years and described herself as an “appalled alumna,” of Evergreen as did Bonnie Phillips of Olympia, who received her masters from Evergreen and now runs a regional biomass related list serv.

Beth McBain, spokesperson for Concerned Citizens of Mason County, lives in the neighborhood of 100 homes and a K-8 school in Shelton where Adage hopes to build its biomass plant. She urged the commissioners to keep the moratorium in place.

“Sadly it seems that many of our elected officials have drunk the green Kool Aid that has been offered up by Big Energy, the forest products industry, and their highly paid lobbyists….We would hate to think that one of our most respected state institutions located right here in Thurston County would be forced to change its name to the Never Green State College.”

Mary Moore, representing the League of Women Voters, spoke of the League’s support for moratorium.

Susan Macomson, representing the South Sound Sierra Club, also supported the moratorium.

Olympia City Councilmember Steve Langer spoke as a private citizen in support of the moratorium, calling it “good public policy.” Langer, who said he suffers from asthma and heart disease, said he was concerned about the health effects of biomass, questioned whether or not biomass gasification is carbon neutral and wondered how much biomass belongs in the forest for the forest to be healthy.

TESC Testifies

Ken Tabbutt, interim vice-president for academics, spoke about TESC’s Sustainability Council’s process in examining its proposed biomass gasification facility. "If TESC chooses to go ahead with the project, we hope to partner with the county to implement responsible standards,” said Tabbutt.

Ted Whitesell, an Evergreen faculty member for 18 years, serves on the TESC Sustainability Council. He's also the director of TESC's master of environmental studies program, and is conducting an applied research class on biomass this quarter, involving 26 students.

“I would not consider myself an expert on biomass but the research allows me to conclude that the moratorium was a wise and reasonable decision on your part…your decision was a courageous act. What we have not heard tonight is a compelling argument for why you should change your mind. It’s not about TESC or Adage, it’s about the moratorium and biomass gasification. Maintain the moratorium,” said Whitesell.

TESC student Dani Madrone also spoke in support of the moratorium. Madrone, a student advisory member of the TESC Sustainability Council who works with the Office of Sustainability as a paid intern, recently excused herself from further involvement in the biomass project process.

In a recent letter to TESC college president Les Purce, Madrone says that “the current path we tread in search of sustainability is intrinsically wrong….The biomass gasification project has comprised Evergreen’s relationship with the campus and surrounding communities....”

“With the full support of the school, I had promised ideas of collaboration, told people that their concerns would be addressed, and insisted that the school would be transparent. However, the college has violated all of these promises,” the letter says. Madrone, a senior, will soon receive her bachelor of applied science degree in advanced chemistry, renewable energy systems and community development.

The letter, which was sent to the county commissioners late last week, calls for TESC to honor the Thurston County moratorium, revisit the campus Climate Action Plan, return remaining biomass gasification feasibility study monies back to the Clean Energy Committee, and adopt a formal policy on public process.

The letter is signed by four members of the TESC Clean Energy Committee, one member of the TESC Sustainability Council (Ted Whitesell), several Sustainability and Justice program faculty members and other faculty members, students, and community members.

The commissioners closed public comment tonight but will review public comments in a work session on February 9, from 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. at the Thurston County Courthouse, Room 280. The work session is open to the public.

Jeremy Davis, county association planner, said prior to the hearing tonight that the commissioners have received a total of 294 comments regarding the moratorium, with one of those comments against the moratorium. The county moratorium on biomass facilities is thought to be the first in the country, and comments have also been received from outside the county, statewide, the United States and outside the United States.

These comments and tonight’s testimony will be posted on the Thurston County Planning Commission website at

TESC Sustainability Council

TESC Sustainability Council members are now meeting weekly to gather information in order to provide a recommendation to TESC vice presidents by early March about the project. The group is under pressure: TESC vice-president John Hurley has promised the Washington State Department of Commerce an answer in March as to whether or not they will continue with the project. If they don’t, TESC must give back a $3.7 million grant dedicated to building the project.

The council was not specifically charged to deal with a biomass feasibility study at all. The group deviated from its own Climate Action Plan to pursue the study now, influenced by state-funneled federal stimulus “clean energy” funds, instead of in a couple years from now.

The group does not have an official process to determine how decisions are made, or whether quorums are needed at meetings to move forward with key decisions. Member attendance is spotty and one long-time sustainability council member, faculty member Rob Cole, is now on academic leave for the quarter. Meeting minutes are taken sporadically. Community meetings are quickly planned and sparsely attended due to the short notice provided. The last community meeting, held at Evergreen in late January, was publicly noticed to some community, elected officials, and neighborhood associations just six days prior.

Another opportunity for the community to meet with McKinstry and Nexterra representatives last week was noticed only to TESC faculty, students and staff. McKinstry and Nexterra are two of the companies Evergreen is working with to finance and build the biomass facility.

A couple group members – those who have an actual vote on the direction of this project – have expressed serious reservations about the study’s quickened pace. Last week, the council struggled to define the project boundaries for carbon emissions and the scope of the college’s responsibility to carbon neutrality.

High Cost to Woo Biomass

In related news, The Evergreen State College spent a total of $1,940 to send two college representatives, Sustainability Council member and director of facilities Paul Smith, and Sustainability Coordinator Scott Morgan, to the recent Pacific West Biomass Conference in Seattle last month.

The keynote speaker for the conference, Washington State Department of Natural Resource’s Commissioner of Public Lands, Peter Goldmark, announced a jet biofuel initiative, that is now pending legislation before the Washington State Legislature.

The registration, hotel, mileage reimbursement cost, which came out of their respective department budgets, provided TESC the opportunity to attend workshops and meet a variety of biomass related vendor representatives.

For more information on TESC and regional biomass issues, see other articles at

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Thurston County Board of Health Hears Biomass Reports

Thurston County Board of Health Hears Biomass Information

By Janine Gates

In the first of several work sessions, Thurston County Board of Health members, who also serve as the Thurston County Commissioners, today heard biomass related reports from several state agency representatives and the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA).

The commissioners, Cathy Wolfe, Sandra Romero, and Karen Valenzuela, adopted an ordinance in late December 2010 that created a year long moratorium on new biomass facilities in Thurston County. The moratorium was passed in response to citizen concerns and to give the commissioners time to research and learn about biomass issues. Biomass facilities are not currently addressed in Thurston County code.

The Thurston County moratorium on new biomass facilities is considered to be the first of its kind in the nation. The commissioners will conduct a public hearing on the county’s moratorium on Monday, February 7, 5:30 p.m., in Room 152.

The Evergreen State College (TESC), located in Thurston County, is proposing to build a biomass gasification facility. The TESC Sustainability Council is still in a feasibility phase but has taken an active role in pursuing, and has received, partial funding for the project.

For more information, see a December 21 article about the moratorium and other articles related to TESC's project at

Peter Moulton, bioenergy coordinator for the Washington State Department of Commerce, provided the board a statewide overview of biomass policy and bioenergy issues.

Representatives of the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA) explained air quality permitting process and standards. Craig Partridge, policy director for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) gave an overview of DNR’s forest practices and its biomass initiative.

Sally Toteff, southwest regional director for the Washington State Department of Ecology and Chuck Matthews of Ecology's solid waste division, reviewed industrial storm water and water quality issues that could come into play during the county’s permitting process for a biomass facility.

When county planning director Scott Clark asked Toteff if Ecology has looked at HB 1081 and how it could influence the county’s moratorium, Toteff responded, “Let’s see if it moves…” then admitted that she wasn’t aware of the bill, or its senate companion legislation.

HB 1081, sponsored by Representative Jeff Morris (D-40), ensures that small alternative energy resource facilities are sited in a timely manner in local jurisdictions where there are no existing ordinances to permit these facilities, where applicable ordinances have not been updated in over ten years, or where ordinances have been adopted that impede the timely permitting of these facilities.

The bill had a hearing on January 18 in the House Committee on Technology and Energy & Communications and is scheduled for executive session on February 1. Its companion bill, SB 5228, sponsored by Senator Phil Rockefeller (D-23), is currently in the Senate Environment, Water & Energy Committee, and scheduled for a hearing on February 2.

At the conclusion of today’s Thurston County board of health work session, Jeremy Clark, county associate planner, told the audience observing the meeting that the state agency and ORCAA presentations will be posted on the county website at in about a week.

Future Biomass Meetings

Future county board of health work session meetings are scheduled in Room 280 at the Thurston County Courthouse, 2000 Lakeridge Dr. SW in Olympia. The next regular board of health meeting is Tuesday, February 1, 3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

On Wednesday, February 2, 9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m., The Evergreen State College will have an opportunity to present information on its proposed facility. Several TESC Sustainability Council members and senior staff were in the audience today, observing the board's biomass work session.

On Thursday, February 3, 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m., a group called Concerned Citizens of Thurston County will have an opportunity to present information to the board. This group is specifically concerned with TESC's biomass gasification facility proposal.

Thurston County's moratorium also reopened its 2010-11 comprehensive plan amendment official docket. A 20 day public comment period is required prior to any additions to an official docket. The official docket public comment period will close on Monday, February 7, 2011 at the close of the commissioner's public hearing.

Written comments may be submitted in lieu of testimony. Submit written testimony to Thurston County Planning, attention: Jeremy Davis, until 4:00 P.M. on February 7th. More information is available in hard copy in the Thurston County Permit Assistance Center or online at

Thurston-Mason County Medical Society Weighs In On Biomass

In a letter dated January 14, to the Thurston County commissioners, Dr. Cole Mason, president of the Thurston - Mason County Medical Society, said that the society strongly supports the Thurston County moratorium on biomass facility development and construction. The letter states that the support represents over 400 physicians in Thurston and Mason counties.

“Proposed biomass incineration plants to produce energy have raised serious concerns about the immediate and long term health effects on the residents of Thurston and Mason Counties. There are already established effects on the public’s health when exposed to particulate matter pollution derived from biomass incineration,” says the letter.

In September 2010, the Washington State Medical Association (WSMA) passed a resolution urging state and local governments to adopt policies that minimize health impacts when considering energy sources.

Other Biomass Legislation

Other biomass-related legislation is being proposed this session. A hearing of the Senate's Natural Resources & Marine Waters committee at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 27, will hear an update of forest biomass issues and forest practices leading to conversion of land for development purposes. SB 5273, DNR's aviation biofuel initiative, is also scheduled to be heard by the committee in Senate Hearing Room 2 of the J.A. Cherberg Building.

Legislative schedules are subject to change. To follow Washington State legislation, go to

For more information:

Concerned Citizens of Thurston County at

State Agency Biomass Related Websites:

Washington State Department of Commerce:

ORCAA: www.orcaa/woody-biomass-emissions-study

Washington Department of Natural Resources:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Goldmark Announces Aviation Biofuel at Biomass Conference

Above: Biomass protesters outside the Seattle Sheraton hotel today. Conference attendees paid between $495 - $895 to attend the Pacific West Biomass conference, which continues tomorrow.

By Janine Gates

Goldmark Announces Aviation Biofuel at Biomass Conference

While local biomass opponents staged a protest outside the Seattle Sheraton hotel this morning, Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark today announced his proposal for legislation establishing a Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) forest biomass pilot project that would create jet fuel from wood waste.

Goldmark made the announcement during his keynote address to the Pacific West Biomass Conference in Seattle.

“Aviation biofuel is a product that can provide a renewable, locally grown energy source combining Washington’s forestry heritage and our technology future,” said Goldmark.

“The Forest Biomass Initiative has a unique opportunity to help new, efficient technologies get to the marketplace in a pragmatic and sustainable way. Finding a higher use for residual forest biomass will help maintain our working lands that provide so many other benefits to the public, like habitat and clean water.”

Boeing, the Port of Seattle and the Washington State Department of Commerce and Governor Chris Gregoire are all supportive of the effort.

In a press release issued today by DNR, Gregoire said, “Forest biomass represents an incredible opportunity to heat our homes, power our cities and fight climate change. Thanks to the hard work, groundbreaking research and leadership of so many, including Commissioner of Public Lands Goldmark, forest biomass may now fuel our airplanes. The opportunity to combine our cutting-edge aviation industry with the growing clean-energy industry will help create local jobs and show the world that we will continue to be a leader in the global economy."

Outside the hotel after Goldmark's address, a conference participant commented on Goldmark’s remarks.

“It was great as far as biojet fuel goes - last year the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) introduced the first specifications for the commercialization of jet fuel,” said Ron Kotrba, the editor of Biodefining Magazine, who came from North Dakota for the conference. Attendees included representatives of engineering companies, biomass equipment vendors and those who can facilitate biomass production.

Commenting on a group of biomass industry protesters gathered nearby, Kotrba said, “I think these protesters didn’t do their research because they’re talking about deforestation but what the biomass industry is about is using waste that would otherwise not be used or used for other purposes.”

Conference workshop tracks included the topic of higher education as a biomass industry catalyst. Representatives from the University of Washington, Bellingham Technical College, and Washington State University presented workshops.

The Evergreen State College (TESC) in Olympia is pursuing funding for its proposed biomass gasification facility, which is currently in a feasibility study phase.

At a meeting of the TESC Sustainability Council yesterday, members briefly discussed defining project boundaries for carbon emissions. The council will meet again next week. A date has not yet been set, according to Jason Wettstein, communications director for The Evergreen State College.

Above: Sheraton hotel security and Mason County Port Commissioner Jack Miles chat outside the Seattle Sheraton Hotel today.

Citizens from Thurston and Mason counties gathered outside the hotel during Goldmark’s speech, speaking through a megaphone, and handing out literature, protesting several proposed biomass facilities around the Olympic Pennisula.

In Thurston County, a biomass gasification facility is being proposed at The Evergreen State College in Olympia. In Mason County, a biomass facility that would produce electricity is proposed by Adage in Shelton.

Protesters outside today's conference included Mason County Port Commissioner Jack Miles, who is the only port commissioner on record against the Adage facility.

“Basically, we’re trying to educate the public on how bad this is going to be for all our communities,” said Miles. Last week, Miles filed an anti-harassment complaint in district court against the executive director of the Port of Shelton, John Dobson. Miles says he is being harassed for his position against Adage.

“Especially in light of the assassination attempt against the U.S. congresswoman in Arizona, I am even more concerned for my safety working against a large corporation and I’m taking these threats against me seriously…I am not doing this (protesting Adage) for my benefit. It is a matter of public health and safety above anything else,” said Miles.

“I didn’t come out against it until I educated myself about it…I will fight this until I’m no longer in office, and after I’m out of office.” Miles was first elected to his port commissioner position in 2005.

Regarding the recent Thurston County moratorium on biomass facilities imposed by the county commissioners, Miles says, “They got it right. Where is the due diligence of public officials in Mason County to see if this is a good fit for the community? It’s not….Our community never had an opportunity to study the issue - it was shoved down our throats. Mason County commissioners need to step up and recognize that this is not good for the community. Public health and safety is in jeopardy.”

Mason County residents Tom Davis and his wife, Amy, also traveled to Seattle today to make their views known. They held a “No Incinerators” sign.

“I’m here because my wife and I moved here from San Diego for the clean air and the forests. We feel that biomass is a giveaway of our natural resources and we think they are a predatory industry that preys on rural, economically depressed communities. Did you know that the American Medical Association, the American Lung Association, and the World Health Organization are all against biomass? It’s because it produces 2.5 micron particle matter that goes directly into your lungs that can’t be filtered out,” said Davis.

Mason County residents gathered 3,200 signatures against the proposed Adage facility last year on a petition to the Port of Shelton and Mason County commissioners. The port and county commissions refused to allow an advisory ballot to ask the voters about the project.

The Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA), an agency having regulatory and enforcement authority in six local counties, recently recommended a permit for Adage. There is a public hearing on January 31 at the Shelton Civic Center, 525 West Cota Street, at 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. about the recommendation. Go to for more information.

Citizens from Thurston County also attended the protest.

Pat Rasmussen, coordinator of the World Temperate Rainforest Network, has been active since last May in learning about the proposed biomass gasification facility at The Evergreen State College (TESC). The college, which is looking to be carbon neutral by 2020, is in a feasibility phase of the project, but has already received partial grant funding and is actively seeking state appropriations during the 2011 legislative session, which started yesterday.

“We’re fighting for our lives on this issue - biomass is the wrong way to go. I can feel it in my gut,” says Rasmussen.

"So far, DNR's carbon neutrality position is political, not scientific. When it gets peer-reviewed, it will be shown that it's based on politics." Rasmussen criticized Governor Chris Gregoire for being lobbied and mislead by Goldmark, and the biomass and timber industry.

"Gregoire needs to hear the science," said Rasmussen.

Editor’s Note: Despite being a card-carrying member of the National Writers Union (NWU) and showing an international press card issued by the International Federation of Journalists, this reporter was denied entry to the conference by the coordinators, BBI International, and prevented from hearing Peter Goldmark’s keynote speech first-hand. This reporter was also ushered off the property of the Seattle Sheraton hotel while speaking with a conference participant while he was outside the hotel. Janine Gates would like to thank Ron Kotrba, editor of Biorefining Magazine, for continuing our interview after being ushered to a public sidewalk by security members of the hotel.

For more information on local biomass issues, see other articles at

Other sources include and

Above: Biomass protesters receive a visit from one of Seattle finest, Officer L.M. Cook. There were no problems - she just stopped by to ask them to not take pictures while standing in traffic and to keep the sidewalk clear.