Placer County & TRPA’s Fallacious Argument Regarding

Open Biomass Burning Versus Controlled Biomass Burning:


As explained elsewhere in this web site, one of the most common, among the many fallacious arguments of the proponents of the power plant, has to do with open burning versus controlled biomass combustion.  The argument is that open burning of biomass materials pollutes more than biomass burning at a facility.  And, the fact is that this is overwhelmingly true.  No one debates this issue.  That’s not the point.


Placer County has repeatedly pushed this theme and one sees their graphs scattered here and there in other studies illustrating this point.  Even the EIR is going to examine this comparison in detail as if it has some bearing on putting a power plant in the Basin. They often show the difference in the pollutants produced by a ton of material burned openly in contrast to a facility.  The connection they are trying to make is that the facility vastly reduces air pollution when, in reality the opposite is the case.  What they are suggesting is that burning biomass in a plant in Kings Beach will reduce the quantity of open burning in the Basin.  That is not the case and the comparison is fallaciously incoherent in that one does not follow the other (non sequitur).  A certain amount of open burning will always occur do to the fact that not all forest waste can be removed and hauled away (28%).  Placing a biomass plant in Kings Beach won’t alter that fact.


Indeed, very little biomass is burned openly in the Basin, as the reader knows; it is hauled away for burning in Loyalton.  The plan, however, is to have the Kings Beach facility burn all the waste from within a 30 mile radius 24/7, 365 days a year.  To compare the current negligible level of occasional open burning in the Basin with what is planned for the plant, thereby suggesting a reduction of pollution is, while a clever and deceptive ploy, is ludicrous. 

For example, the equivalent of less than 1000 cords of lodgepole pine is burned by the Kings Beach community annually, and consumption has been declining as stoves have become more efficient.  The proposed plant will burn the heat equivalent of about 24,000 cords of pine per year.   The biomass plant may be qualitatively cleaner than open burning but quantitatively disastrous.   And, as stated previously, occasional open burning will continue in spite of the plant.


Quite Simply:  Burning biomass in a plant inside or outside the Basin will not alter the already fixed need for occasional open burning in the Basin.  It will not reduce the quantity of open burning.  The question is simply whether one trucks waste from the Cabin Creek processing plant to Loyalton for burning outside the Basin or to Kings Beach for burning inside the Basin.  Nothing else changes.   While we favor such things as "reduced open burning" and/or “cost effective fuels reduction,” claims that building a power plant in the Basin will do this are simply not true.