Regulators have approved an air pollution permit for a proposed biomass power plant in Lakeview, Oregon. Some residents have questioned the permit because the town is already struggling with pollution from wood stoves.
The biomass plant that energy company Iberdrola wants to build will be allowed to emit up to 32 tons of fine particulate pollution a year.
That’s the same kind of pollution found in the smoke from wood stoves. Those fine particles have been linked to asthma, heart attacks, and premature deaths. Chris Zinda lives in Lakeview. He says in the winter, the air in town violates health standards.
“The air permitting program is allowing industrial sources like this to add a significant quantity of small particulate matter which is going exacerbate the problem," Zinda says.
But Oregon DEQ’s regional air quality manger says the biomass power plant will not make it harder for Lakeview to comply with health standards. He says the smoke from wood stoves tends to hang near the ground.
By contrast, the biomass plant will have a tall stack and emissions that disperse quickly. And Iberdrola will be required to offset its pollution.
Copyright Oregon Public Broadcasting 2013.