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There's more to sludge

by: SARAH TOOR, Polaris Renewable Energy wants to burn Portland’s sewage sludge as an energy source. Co-founder Christian Frison informs readers that the sludge is “carbon-neutral.”

Polaris Renewable Energy appreciates the Portland Tribune article and is excited about the potential to headquarter its company in the city of Portland and build a carbon-neutral biosolids-to-energy facility in Oregon (Sewer sludge looks sweet to some, Aug 14).

We've also appreciated the careful consideration from Commissioner Sam Adams and his staff on our proposal, as well as the supportive comments from Dean Marriott, director of Portland's Bureau of Environmental Services.

However, we'd like to make a quick but important correction to the article.

The sewage sludge - once it has been processed by Polaris - is a 'carbon-neutral' renewable fuel. The European Commission, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Chicago Climate Exchange, as well as Green-e, all consider sewage sludge, having gone through a process such as Polaris', as carbon-neutral.

The Oregon Polaris facility will offset approximately 28,000 tons of CO2 in the displacement of lignite coal use alone. Comments suggesting that the burning/combustion of biosolids would release greenhouse gases appear to be misstated - all such fuels contain carbon, including the biodiesel that is produced at Eastern Oregon farms.

The burning of biodiesel also releases carbon into the atmosphere, but given that its constituents (as well as those within biosolids) are considered organic or 'biogenic,' the IPCC and other climate oversight organizations assign a CO2 emissions factor of 'zero' to such carbon.

Polaris will help diversify Portland's current biosolids management in a way that reduces its carbon footprint and helps local industry reduce its coal use, while continuing the relationship with Eastern Oregon farmers.

Christian Frison

Co-founder, Polaris Renewable Energy

Seattle

Growth may be good, but it's painful

After reading the letter from Bob Stacey, 'With urban growth, the math matters' (Aug. 17), in particular the paragraph that says: 'In Portland, we know more about how to do it right than anywhere else in America,' I must say that I'm shocked by this claim.

We know more about how to do it right?

It would seem that Stacey hasn't driven through Tigard on Pacific Avenue between the hours of 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. All the roads between Interstate 5 and Sherwood are reduced to a crawl in the afternoon.

I would think that if Portland were the best at knowing how to grow, then there wouldn't be such traffic congestion. And there would be more traffic capacity on the road infrastructure, and it wouldn't take me 30 minutes to drive seven miles every morning and up to an hour in the afternoon.

Having moved here from out of state (I can hear the groans over this from here …), I am part of the projected growth and can completely understand and agree with it. It's wonderful here!

I just hope that in the future we will grow into Bob's claim of knowing more about how to grow than any place else.

Todd Hayes

Tigard

Via Web

Going vegan isn't only about the food

In response to 'Awakening to the vegan scene' (Sustainable Life, Aug. 14), Donna Benjamin 'acknowledges that some vegans can be over the top about diet and, as a result, some people see vegans as almost cultlike.

'Vegans do live with a strong commitment to health and the environment,' she says, 'but Al and I teach, we don't preach. We'd love society to see vegan as another food option.'

I don't want to seem critical here, but veganism is not about just food or diet; it is not about another food option; it is about eliminating suffering. Most vegans do not appreciate their stance being watered down in such a way.

While many vegans do live with a strong commitment to health and the environment, if one's concern is about these issues and not about eliminating animal suffering, then one is not a vegan, but a person who eats a plant-based diet.

There is a difference … and a big one, at that.

People who themselves do not consume animal products but buy these products for others are not vegans, because of the suffering issue.

Kudos to anyone who is elevating their thinking by going vegan. However, if the animals are not your concern, you are not a vegan. This is, in fact, the definition of who a vegan is.

Veganism is radical … just as those who refused to own a slave were considered radical in their time. The time will come when those who are true vegans will no longer be the radicals.

Carolyn Yane

Ohio

Via Web