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Bad call on biomass review

By G. Michael Dobbs
Managing Editor
I don't know Ian Bowles, the outgoing Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs. I mean I know who he is and have seen him in person at least once, but I have no idea what qualifies him to make decisions about energy policy.
I looked up his official bio and it seems he has had 20 years experience making energy decisions and working in conservation. That's fine, but is he a public health official? Is he an engineer or a chemist or a biologist?
I don't think so. It didn't say.
Then why would Bowles deny the commission of an environmental impact study on the proposed biomass plant that Palmer Paving wants to build off Page Boulevard in Springfield?
From what position of expertise does he make this decision?
Being aware of the opposition to its initial choice of fuel — construction and demolition waste — created, the company changed its application to the state to burns green wood chips. Because of this change, apparently, Bowles gave this green light to move the project forward.
It's a parting shot for Bowles who is leaving the job and allowing former Westfield Mayor Rick Sullivan to handle it. Sullivan has a background in preservation and I can only hope he would take a far more cautious approach to approving such ventures in the future.
Everyone in this valley who is concerned about the level of air pollution and the health problems it has created should be up in arms about Bowles' continuing in-difference to the real impact this plant would have.
The amount of tax revenue to Springfield and the number of jobs this would create would not offset thousands of sick people.
***

A lot of folks talk about the need for smaller government and Mayor Michael Bis-sonnette of Chicopee is doing something about it.
Make no mis-take, Bissonnette isn't a Tea Party member — not that there is anything wrong with that — but he is concerned about how tax dollars are spent and has been successful in undertaking a number of efficiencies that have saved the city's taxpayers money.
Not all of these ideas have come to fruition and one current one is causing some worry among some quarters. Bissonnette is proposing examining reducing the number of wards in the city and, therefore, decreasing the number of members on both the City Council and the School Committee.
The mayor believes the size of the population of the city warrants a decrease in the number of representatives. He has looked at cities of comparable size — and larger — to see how other governments are structured and believes it's time to look if there is a better way to govern the second largest city in the region.
It's certainly a valid discussion.
***

East Longmeadow reader J. Patrick Henry wrote the following in response to my series of questions about tax and unemployment legislation: "Now I get to ask a question: If Nancy Pelosi feels that 'unemployment benefits create jobs.' why shouldn't we lay off 10 percent more workers, and double the job-creation? Or perhaps no one ever told her that unemployment compensation checks come directly out of employers' pockets, sucking away the cash they could use to hire new workers. And new workers produce products; unemployed people cannot produce."
Patrick, you are right that employers pay into the fund and you are right that employment is better than unemployment in terms of productivity, but I would propose it is better for unemployed people to have some money for goods and services — which helps businesses as a whole in these difficult times — than for them to have nothing and create a larger burden on society.
We all know that consumer spending drives the economy. Unemployment compensation contributes to consumer spending, which helps all of us.
Hey, agree with me? Disagree? Drop me a line at news@thereminder.com or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. And as always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.

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