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Patrick Administration is wrong on biomass

Date: 11/23/2009

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

Could someone please explain to me why putting a biomass plant that burns construction and demolition waste in the middle of a residential area is a good idea?

Since I do have permission from Mayor Domenic Sarno to give him a kick in the backside when I think he's wrong, I'm taking him up on his offer this week.

But the mayor isn't alone. The members of the City Council, the Finance Control Board, the city's economic development staff and anyone else who approved this plan should bend over and be prepared to say, "Thank you, sir, may I have another?"

City Councilors Patrick Markey and Rosemary Mazza Moriarty, since they voted against it, are excused.

The mayor and other city officials will have some company as well, because Gov. Deval Patrick and his energy/conservation czar, Ian Bowles, also should be lined up. Frankly I want to kick those two much, much harder.

My leg is going to be sore.

Governor, if putting a waste-burning biomass in an urban area is such a good idea, then why isn't your administration advocating one for Boston? Nope, that wouldn't be prudent in an upcoming election year. Let's allow it for Springfield, which is well out of harm's way.

And by the way, gentle readers, this just isn't a Springfield issue. If you don't think the emissions from this plant aren't going to have an impact on the air you breathe, you're wrong.

Now I know the plant has been framed as an economic development issue as well as a "green" solution to the area's strained landfills. I understand we need to dispose of this waste. And I also understand the pressing concern to generate power through means other than burning fossil fuel, especially imported oil.

I get all that and I'm definitely in favor of seeing private businesses and government work together to find solutions that would clean up the state and free us from foreign oil. Instead of tearing down a building and burning it, what about recycling as much of it as can be reused?

And I also understand how this plant will generate jobs and tax money for a city that needs both.

Yes, so far the project has met state's standards, but consider these facts: the state has changed the definition of the construction waste so it could be used as fuel and be considered "green" and Bowles decided there didn't need to be a health impact study done for this project.

This is being rammed down our throats. The Hampden District Medical Society, the American Lung Association and Western Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition are three groups that fear the health impacts from the emissions from this facility.

If you're concerned about slowing down, if not stopping completely, the state's efforts, you must attend the Department of Environmental Protection's air quality permitting hearing on Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. at the Kennedy Middle School, 1385 Berkshire Ave. in Springfield.


Speaking on bad decisions, I cannot fathom why the editors at Newsweek decided to use a photo of Sarah Palin in a running outfit as their cover shot. The photo had been taken during the campaign for a running magazine and apparently was not used.

For the running magazine it was appropriate. For the Newsweek story, it came across as some sort of political cheesecake.

So what has happened is Newsweek is being tarred as being sexist and displaying its liberal leanings.

While I cannot stand Palin's politics, this was simply bad journalism. It had nothing to do with the content of their story and brought the magazine down to the level of a tabloid.

This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments online to or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, Mass. 01028.