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