The Maine Northwood’s, Plum Puzzling Part I

Posted: 24/01/2008 in Uncategorized
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Have you ever noticed how many things in life seem to be just puzzling. Try as hard as you can and you can’t figure out what the answer is. Sometimes it’s exactly what you think it is, and other times the answer is so far from where you stand, you just can’t see it. Maine’s like that in a lot of ways, isn’t it? Take for instance, this latest drive Baldacci has for the entire state to turn to wood for heating. It’s a nice plan and all, but really, is it the answer?

Wood is a good heat source. It’s nice and warm. Comforting in a way. And that aroma from the burning logs, ain’t that something else. Ayuh, wood, Maine’s renewable resource. Plenty of it in the woods now that the lumber industry is in a decline too. But think about this piece of the puzzle. You’ve got a little piece in your hands. It’s got some red on it, and a stripe of green down through the middle.

Let’s say you’re putting together a puzzle of a harbor scene. You know this piece goes on a lobster boat tied up to its buoy in the harbor. But exactly where? Towards the bow or towards the stern? That’s the piece Baldacci’s wood burning plan sits on. So you think wood is the answer to our reliance on foreign oil, do you? I don’t agree. I don’t think that piece goes on the lobster boat at all. I think it goes on the Harbormasters tender, tied up at the pier.

You see, it’ll work like this. People will get fed up with the oil price game and switch over to wood stove heating systems. And of course, wood stoves require wood for fuel. The supply is plentiful for now, so the price isn’t so high. But the law of supply and demand will kick in. More people needing wood will require more supplies. The supply quantity will decrease, forcing the price up. The demand is there, so people will pay the price. After a time, the wood supply will start to dwindle, and the price will skyrocket. We’ll be playing the game of price with wood instead of oil. Same game, just playing it with a different ball. Kind of like baseball and softball.

And then of course there is another piece in this puzzle. We have to look at the global warming issue we face as a state. Wood, being a carbon based fuel, just like coal and oil, will pump crap into the air that we really don’t want. Not only that, a move is afoot to eliminate pollution of that sort. This piece of the puzzle has red and green on it too. But it doesn’t match up with the first piece. Hmmm. Which boat does this piece go on? how does it connect?

Global warming seems to be a widely held issue of fact. Some people even believe that there is a consensus amongst the scientific community that there is a serious problem, and that mankind is causing all of these ‘greenhouse gasses’ that is causing the Earths mean temperature to rise. This is causing the polar ice caps to melt, terrible storms and all kinds of other weather related calamities. It has been claimed that mankind has less than 100 years to correct the problem, or we will perish.

But we have a piece of a puzzle which says we need to convert to wood, and wood pellets are the way to go. Why? Why are pellets the best solution? Last year, Ken Eldridge opened a company called Corinth Wood Pellets. He had grand plans of producing over 140,000 tons of pellets a year. After Baldacci’s spiel about wood pellets being the solution, we hear that business isn’t so great for him. Most of his product gets exported to Europe. Maine turns out to be a small part of the total business for him. It also turns out he received a Pine Tree Zone tax credit for starting the business. Where does his wood come from. The Maine forests, of course.

So now we have three different pieces of the puzzle. All three connect somehow, but not directly. One piece is Baldacci’s push for Maine wood to be used as a fuel. Another piece is the global warming aspect of Maine. The third one is the Maine woods.

And speaking of Global Warming, Wisconsin is hosting a conference called “Coping With Climate Change.” Wonder why they don’t call it “Coping With Global Warming?” It’s on February 11th if you are interested in scooting over. They just announced the FERC’s Phillip Moeller will be added as a keynote speaker. is the link if you’d like to read more. What does a conference on climate change have to do with Maine? Not a whole lot, really. But I found it interesting that Plum Creek Timber is one of the sponsors, along with We Energies, Xcel Energy, Wal-Mart, Wisconsin Public Service, the American Petroleum Institute, WHDGA and Alliant Energy.

Why is it interesting? Well, there has been a lot of talk lately about the ‘carbon footprint’ of this proposed development lately. Environmentalists seem to feel that the development will somehow ‘speed up’ the accumulation of greenhouse gases in Maine. Plum Creek has frequently been in trouble with these groups because of the way they run their business.

In some cases it was over really inconsequential issues like hydraulic fluid leaking out of a piece of equipment. And the issues range upwards towards habitat destruction. The Alliance For Credible Forest Certification has this to say about them;

PLUM CREEK TIMBER CO. – Clear cutting/logging old growth forests and other wild, unlogged forests in Washington and Montana. Eliminating grizzly bear, spotted owl, and other endangered species’ habitats. Violating wildlife and forestry rules in Maine. Replacing forests with subdivisions and other non-forest land uses in Washington, Montana, and Maine. Plans to sell-off 1.4 million acres for development. Opening forestlands to coal-bed methane mining.

http://www.sfi_facts/factsheets/factsheets/SFI_Forest_Destruction.pdf. is the link for information.

So Plum Creek Timber is a co-sponsor of a climate change conference. Hmm. Now that’s an interesting piece of Maine’s puzzle. I wonder how that one fits in. Oh well, more on Maine’s puzzle and the many pieces in it tomorrow.


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