The Valley Advocate: News – Yay or Nay on Biomasspublic healt

The mayor, meanwhile, continues to give the plant what he emphasizes is conditional support. The day after the vote, Sarno told the Advocate that hes relying on state health and environmental officials to ensure that the project is safe. Im not a specialist, he said. I have to go with what the scientists, the [Department of Environmental Protection] and [Environmental Protection Agency] say.

But what about the people whose names will appear at the top of the November ballot—the three major mayoral candidates?

Tosado questioned whether the new jobs that developers say the plant would create would go to Springfield residents: Weve already got too many Connecticut license plates headed for I-91 at five oclock. public health jobsThats not smart economic development. He also praised the unprecedented mobilization and cooperation among community groups and city officials in insisting that this new biomass technology be carefully scrutinized.

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We sent a message that Springfield will no longer be the dumping ground for projects that other communities have rejected, Tosado said. Springfield already has more than its share of air pollution and diseases related to air quality, and this project would have necessarily made things worse.

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For the record: All eight ward councilors—Zaida Luna, Michael Fenton, Melvin Edwards, Henry Twiggs, Clodo Concepcion, Amaad Rivera, Tim Allen and John Lysak—voted for revocation, along with at-large Councilors Tom Ashe and Jose Tosado. At-large Councilors Tim Rooke and Kateri Walsh voted against revocation. At-large Councilor Jimmy Ferrera missed the vote, citing a mily emergency.

Now they made a decision again without waiting for a report from Boston which would have only taken a short amount of time, Pepes statement said. Bostons decision could have made a big difference in the amount of money this mistake may cost us in litigation.

The Valley Advocate: News – Yay or Nay on Biomasspublic healt,In the end, the Council voted to revoke the permit, given in 2008 to Palmer Renewable Energy, to build the plant in East Springfield. The vote came after significant pressure from opponents who maintain the plant poses serious environmental and health risks. Proponents of the project (among them, some labor unions) say it would create needed jobs and tax revenue.

As if last weeks meeting of the Springfield City Council to consider rescinding the permit for a controversial wood-burning power plant in the city wasnt already heavy with import—about the public health and environmental implications, the effects on the larger battle over biomass, the possibility that the city could ce a lawsuit from the developersThe Valley Advocate: News – Yay or Nay on Biomasspublic healt—it was also fraught with political drama, coming just a little more than five months before Election Day.

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The councilors first mistake: approving the permit in 2008. Their second: taking the revocation vote before the air-quality report has been released.

Make that some city officials—Tosado also took a swipe at incumbent Mayor Dom Sarno, charging, While Mayor Sarno sat on the sidelines, we took a stand.

If something comes across that this would be a health or environmental risk, then nobody would support it, Sarno said. But the specialists have let it move forward this r.

And the third mayoral candidate, School Committee member Antonette Pepe? Her campaign sent the Advocate a statement saying that Pepe does not support the PRE plant. As much as we need new business in our city, this is not worth the risk to our health, the statement read.

As Council president, Tosado was the only of the three mayoral candidates to cast a vote on the permit issue. In ct, this was the second time Tosado voted on the permit; in 2008, he voted to grant the permit. This time, he voted to revoke it, later issuing a press release calling the Council decision a historic moment for Springfield.

Sarno said he has to evaluate the project from multiple perspectives: as a ther whose youngest child suffers from severe asthma, and as an elected official who has to consider the plant as an economic development project. And now, he added, he also has to consider the legal liability the city ces if the developers follow through on their threats to sue.

Pepe reached her decision, it continued, after doing her homework—something, it went on, that the Council iled to do. Many times people put the cart before the horse in decisions and then they regret it. This is a prime example of doing that, not once, but twice.

At deadline, the project was awaiting an air-quality permit from DEP. Changes made by the developers last year mean that the plants emission levels ll just below the threshold to require a Major Comprehensive Air Plan Approval from DEP, and the past and current secretaries of Energy and Environmental Afirs—Ian Bowles and Rick Sullivan, respectively—have both ruled that the project need not undergo additional Mass. EPA review.

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