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SPEECH President's Message

by Janine Gates

In our last issue, SPEECH highlighted The Evergreen State College's (TESC) proposed biomass gasification facility study. A lot has happened since that edition. In late December, the Thurston County commissioners, who also serve as the county board of health, adopted an emergency ordinance: a year long moratorium on biomass facilities in the county to allow them more time to study the issue.

Our commissioners are to be commended for their courageous move. Thurston County does not currently have any codes for biomass facilities and the county moratorium is thought to be the first in the country.

In case you want to learn more, I dare you to put yourself on one or two national biomass list servs - the discussions around air and water quality, carbon neutrality, forest practices, land use and fuel supply issues are substantial. Our commissioners were absolutely right to take a closer look at the issue, and what it means to our regional and local environmental health.

A county public hearing (February 7) may determine the course of Evergreen's proposed project.

Other biomass facilities throughout western Washington, including Adage in Mason County, are in the permitting process and Washington State Department of Natural Resources head Peter Goldmark announced a jet biofuel initiative and legislation - a real game changer for our region. Other biomass related pieces of legislation have been introduced this session.

Meanwhile, as this issue goes to press, TESC is well aware that the clock is ticking on their $3.7 million grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce to build the facility. By early March, the TESC Sustainability Council must make a recommendation to the vice-presidents to move forward with the project, or Commerce will take the grant away. The TESC-centric group is under pressure, sadly limited by expertise, time, and basic organizational skills. Conversations are rushed, member attendance is spotty, and meeting minutes are taken sporadically. Community meetings are quickly planned and sparsely attended. One overloaded member told me in the hallway after one meeting, "This is not what I signed up for."

The county moratorium, which took Evergreen by surprise, could give TESC a whole lot of time on their hands to explore this issue more carefully, without the carrot of subsidized money dangling in front of them. To learn more about the Thurston County moratorium on biomass facilities and related issues, go to www.thurstonplanning.org.

On another note, I'd like to thank Joanne McCaughan for her tremendous three years of service to the SPEECH board. She is resigning from her positions as secretary and managing editor of the South Sound Green Pages. There is much more to the managing editor position than meets the eye. There's a lot to do before you get to the finished product that you see here. Developing the issue's theme, putting out the "call for articles," via email, maintaining that database, tracking incoming articles and ads, editing, making contact with writers, seeing the big picture of how the articles all fit together in a coherent fashion, working with the layout person (thank you Jeanine McGann!), and making sure it gets to the print shop in a timely fashion, is just part of the position. SPEECH thanks Joanne for her service so she can pursue other interests.

In her letter to the Board, she says, "After a few years of serving as the Managing Editor of the Green Pages, I am pursuing some new activities in my life and need to have as much spontaneous time available as is possible.That being said, I do still plan to be an active member of SPEECH and help in other capacities with the paper. I'd like to do some more writing of my own, and will submit articles and other media from time to time." We wish Joanne the best of everything.

Finally, please join us for SPEECH's Annual Meeting and 21st birthday party on Sunday, March 13, from 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. at the SPEECH office in Media Island, 816 Adams SE. Cake and refreshments will be served! This is the opportunity to meet/elect board members and find out how you can get involved. Last year's meeting was so successful that several folks who came joined the board or volunteered their service to us this year in some way. This is a time of transition for many of us. Let's work together to do what's right for our world, and our community.

Janine Gates is president of SPEECH and can be reached through her website at http://www.janinegatesphotography.com or her Olympia news blog at http://www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com

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Updated 2015/01/07 21:14:22