BPA congratulates recipients of EPA's clean air awards

By Biomass Power Association | June 28, 2011

The Biomass Power Association congratulates Placer County (Calif.) Air Pollution Control District and biomass facility Sierra Pacific Industries for being selected by the U.S. EPA for a 2010 Clean Air Excellence Award.

The Placer County Air Pollution Control District was one of 12 awardees this year, and one of only two in the field of community action.

“The EPA recognition of Placer County for its contributions to clean air is a tribute to the entire biomass industry,” said Bob Cleaves, BPA president and CEO. “Biomass, when done right, can achieve so many benefits on a community level. Placer County, along with Sierra Pacific Industries, have well-earned this honor for their forestry management project, which can and should be replicated in communities across the country.”

“The Placer County study clearly demonstrates the role of forest management toward improving air quality, reducing the threat of wildfires and producing renewable power,” said Mark Pawlicki, director of corporate affairs and sustainability for Sierra Pacific Industries.”

Placer County won the award for its clever and effective use of biomass energy that accomplishes the three simultaneous goals of protecting forests, improving air quality and generating thousands of megawatts of clean, renewable energy for the district.

Below is the statement distributed by the EPA to announce the 2010 recipients:

Forest Resource Sustainability in Placer County, California

Placer County Air Pollution Control District

With over half of Placer County comprised of forested land, County leaders understand the risk and consequences of catastrophic wildfires.

In response, the Placer County Air Pollution Control District and Placer County have teamed with public and private partners—including the U.S. Forest Service and Sierra Pacific Industries—to implement projects to cost effectively manage portions of the 550,000 acres of forest that are at severe risk for wildfire in the Lake Tahoe region and on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Efforts are aimed at reducing wildfire risk, protecting forest resources, improving air and watershed quality, lowering firefighting costs, and reducing the use of fossil fuels for energy in the region. Forest management operations for harvesting commercial products or for reducing wildfire hazards produce excess woody biomass in the form of limbs, tops, and brush. This biomass material usually has no commercial value and is disposed through mastication, or open burning which produces significant amounts of air pollutants.

In the past four years, projects have been initiated focusing on waste that was otherwise destined for open burning. The project has processed and transported 15,000 tons of wastes to biomass energy facilities to fuel the generation of 15,000 megawatt hours of renewable electricity, enough to power more than 1,500 homes for one year.

The projects, which are continuing, achieved emission reductions of 90 tons of fine particulate, 23 tons of nitrogen oxides, 70 tons of volatile organics, 900 tons of carbon monoxide and over 6,000 tons of greenhouse gases. Additional impacts include reducing wildfire intensity, and preserving water, wildlife habitat, and soil productivity.