9/26 This afternoon members of Cascadia Forest Defenders occupied a billboard outside of the West Eugene Seneca Sawmill with a banner that read, “SENECA JONES: BAILOUTS, CLEARCUTS, & POLLUTING WEST EUGENE”.
Seneca Biomass is a wood burning power plant in West Eugene that opened in the spring of 2011 amid public protest. Though the project has been marketed as “green energy”, Seneca Biomass failed its first EPA air pollution test last fall. The plant releases an estimated 17,900 pounds of air toxins into West Eugene Neighborhoods annually—this in addition to the 73,000 pounds already released annually from the mill itself. There are three schools within three miles of the Seneca Biomass facility.
While there are many industrial polluters in West Eugene, it so happens that Seneca Jones receives public funding for its dirty energy project. Seneca currently receives 10 million dollars in tax credits from the state of Oregon under the Business Energy Tax Credit Program. Seneca is now suing the state for an additional one million to offset the production costs of their new plant.
“They get paid, we get polluted,” says West Eugene resident and Cascadia Forest Defender Grace Warner. “It would be nice if the state would give that 11 million to helping schools– not to polluting them.”
Seneca is also responsible for much of the clear-cut logging in Oregon public forests. Seneca is one of the top three purchasers of timber sales in the Elliott State Forest, where companies clear-cut up to 850 acres every year. While the State Land Board justifies the destruction of Oregon’s last remnants of coastal temperate rainforest to benefit public schools, logging in the Elliott contributes to less than one percent of the State’s annual school budget.
Oregon can do better. We demand that Seneca:
Stop polluting West Eugene.
Stop clear-cutting Oregon’s ancient forests.
Start paying taxes like the rest of us.