Recently, Adrian Kuzminski, moderator of Sustainable Otsego, wrote a piece for the Oneonta Daily Star where he suggested a wood-pellet alternative to natural gas energy development in our county, claiming it was the "conservative" way to go. Dave Parker, a member of the Town of Worcester Town Board, took issue with those contentions in a letter to the editor that forms the basis for the following post.
The following suggestions were made by Adrian Kuzminski of Sustainable Otsego in a submission to the Oneonta Daily Star on November 24:
We need to transition to renewables locally as quickly as we can. Fortunately, we live in the midst of a vast biomass region, counting field grasses as well as woodlots. We have local pioneering initiatives such as Enviro-Energy in Wells Bridge, making grass pellets, and New England Wood Pellet in Delaware and Herkimer counties. Our biomass resources could be sustainably harvested, processed, and consumed locally for heating, replacing fossil fuels including gas as well as oil, and potentially developed into a biofuels industry. Talk about jobs!
Economists call this process import replacement, a proven path to wealth creation. The more dollars circulate locally, beginning with harvesting raw materials, to transporting, processing, distributing and consuming them, the better off we all are. This is the ultimate boost to the local economy and a real energy independence!
Unfortunately, big business dominates Washington and Albany. As a result, current public policy promotes fossil fuels, including shale gas, at the expense of renewables.
Shale gas is no mom-&-pop operation. It is produced by national and global corporations to benefit distant investors. Although initially this might be a locally derived product, it would be available to us only after circulating through a complex national and increasingly global system of distribution, storage, refining, pricing and redistribution.
Harvesting woodlots and grass as a heat source alternative to natural gas, even on a scale that would merely supply the energy needs of just our own county, is, to put it politely, ridiculous. Starting with chainsaws, skidders and choppers through processing ovens and compressors to packaging and diesel transportation and finally to government-subsidized pellet storage and furnace retrofits, the notion of eco-benefit is humorous at best.