THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Health concerns drive biomass foes in Springfield

February 7, 2011

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OPPOSITION TO a proposed biomass plant in Springfield has nothing to do with the “Fuel or folly?’’ question raised in two Jan. 26 op-ed pieces “Destroying forests for no gain’’ and “A win for environment and for energy.’’ The medical community here is up in arms because state regulators are all but one step away from giving the plant the green light without having looked at the health impact of smoke from the plant in a community where the air quality is poor and where a Massachusetts Department of Public Health study found school children have twice the asthma rate of their peers in the rest of the state.

When the plant was first proposed in 2008, state officials waived the requirement for an environmental impact study and for giving concern to Springfield as a city with high poverty and high minority population rates. State officials have refused to do a health impact assessment.

I attended the Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition meeting last month, and there was consternation that health officials have no say on this issue once state environmental officials have spoken.

Jean Caldwell
Springfield