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

1 comment:

  1. -----Original Message-----
    From: Karen Valenzuela, Thurston Co. Commissioner
    To: Janine
    Sent: Thu, Feb 10, 2011 12:02 pm
    Subject: Re: [Little Hollywood] County Commissioners Maintain Biomass Moratorium

    Thanks for letting me know you didn't get my comment last night, Janine. I thought I followed the instructions on how to submit --you're right, it's pretty easy-- but if the comment never arrived on your end, probably my error. I'll try to repeat what I said in the comment:

    I reported at Wednesday morning's monthly ORCAA Board meeting about our biomass public hearing on Monday evening, and fellow ORCAA Board member and Mason County Commissioner Tim Sheldon said he objected to the characterization of Shelton's Adage plant as an incinerator facility. I asked staff at yesterday's briefing if they understood that reaction; they did not, and did not know of any other term that would be accurate to describe Adage.

    The way you've written it below makes it sound as if while at the ORCAA Board mtg, I was asked questions about the difference between gasification and incineration, and could not respond. No such conversation took place at the ORCAA meeting.

    Hope that's clear as mud!