Environmental regulators have approved an air pollution permit for a proposed biomass power plant in the southern Oregon town of Lakeview - despite skepticism in this remote community where wood stove smoke is already making it hard to meet clean air standards.
According to a revised permit issued last week, the biomass cogeneration plant that energy company Iberdrola wants to build will be allowed to emit up to 32 tons of fine particulate pollution a year.
Chris Zinda lives just outside Lakeview. He says in the winter, the air in town violates health standards enforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“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.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality approved the air pollution permit. Mark Bailey, an Air Quality Manger with DEQ, says the biomass power plant will not make it harder for Lakeview to comply with health standards.
A spokesman for Iberdrola says the company is also being required to offset its particulate emissions, either by helping the company Collins Pine reduce their reliance on older biomass boilers, or by contributing $250,000 to Lakeview's efforts to reduce wood smoke pollution.