FAQ responding to incorrect and misleading information about the Mariposa Bioenergy Plant 

1. Who is opposed to the project and why are they spreading incorrect and misleading information? Opposition to the project comes from one business owner in the industrial park and a handful of residents in Mykleoaks. The arguments presented by the opponents are contrary to the facts expressed by the team of experts and state officials who evaluated the project under the California Environmental Quality Act. It appears the opponents want to deprive the rest of the community from the overriding benefits of the project, such as reducing the threat of wildfires, a net reduction in air pollution and economic benefits to the community. It’s simply a “not in my backyard” response to the project.

2. How will traffic on Hwy 49 N be affected by the project being located in the proposed location? The project will have a very minor impact on traffic. CalTrans has indicated that approximately 6,100 vehicles pass the Industrial Park intersection every day. The project will add approximately 46 vehicles per day (less than one percent) onto Highway 49. This includes chip delivery trucks, plant operator vehicle trips and maintenance trips. Due to the very minor impact on the intersection, CalTrans and the traffic study consultant concluded a turn lane on Highway 49 was not required.

In regard to large truck traffic delivering chips, the capacity of the plant is the limiting factor. Our operation will need 35 Bone Dry Tons (BDT) of chips a day. A large chip truck can haul 20 tons. Accounting for the average moisture level of the chips, we will need, on average, 2.5 large chip trucks a day, or 3.5 trucks a day, if deliveries are restricted to weekdays. The second point is that these trucks are already on the road today taking the same chips or logs to biomass plants in Fresno or Sonora or to the landfill for burning in the curtain burners. Having a local biomass plant will greatly reduce the average length of these trips thus reducing not only traffic but also air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions associated with those trips.

3. What emissions will be released into the air? What will the impact be on air quality? The impact on air quality in Mariposa County is cleaner air. The plant will generate less air pollution than is currently generated by pile burning, prescribed burns and wildfires. The air quality impact study prepared by TSS Consultants concluded that there would be a significant reduction in five criteria pollutants in our county. The emissions or pollutants (NOx, CO, particulate, etc.) will be the same as those generated by pile burning, prescribed burns, wild fires, and fireplaces. The difference, however, is that the emissions will be significantly lower. The project will utilize air pollution control technologies that will result in emissions well below the maximum allowed. CO2 emissions are reduced since the project will produce electricity through biomass gasification causing PG&E to burn less fossil fuels. The net affect is an overall reduction in CO2 emissions. It’s worth mentioning the CAPCOA (California Air Pollution Control Officers Association) supports the construction of bioenergy plants as a means to reduce air pollution within the state.

4. We’ve heard that the project is attempting an “end run” around CEQA. Is this true? Just the contrary, even though the project may have been permitted under a less rigorous Administrative Use Permit, the project chose to go through the full CEQA review process. Every environmental review required under CEQA was prepared by the project and the reports have been made available to the public for review and comment.

5. Do exhaust stacks need FAA approval due to the proximity of the project to the Mariposa Yosemite Airport? The stack height is below the flight path of the airport. However, in accordance with FAA Regulation Subpart B, Notice of Construction or Alteration, the project will only need to notify the FAA prior to construction. This is a notification process, not an approval process.

6. Is the project in compliance with the Airport Master Plan and the Airport Comprehensive Land Use Plan height requirement? Does the stack height meet the County Ordinance 696 requirements? Although the project is located within the flight path of the airport, the stack height is below the approach zone and 15 feet below the county ordinance limitation of 75 feet. The project retained the services of Jones Snyder and Associates, who confirmed that the project is in compliance with the Airport Master Plan and the Airport Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

7. What about noise pollution and the impact of noise to the area residents? The noise level attributed to the plant at the nearest sensitive receptor (home) was equivalent to that of a refrigerator hum. The project retained the services of Bollard Acoustical Consultants to prepare a detailed noise study. The study evaluated the noise levels at the neighboring properties. The complete noise study is included with the Conditional Use Permit application.

8. Does the project comply with the noise regulations in the County Ordinance 696? The noise study concluded that the noise level at the project boundary will be less than the 70 dBA and less than 55 dBA at Highway 49 in conformance with the county ordinance. The project is designed to further reduce noise levels at night by over sizing the feed system such that the frontend loader does not need to operate at night.

9. What will be done with the ash generated by the project? Is this material hazardous? The ash material is no more hazardous than the ash generated in fireplaces and woodstoves. It is the same ash that is generated by the county in the two curtain burners at the landfill. The county has indicated their desire to use the ash as a supplement in the production of compost at the landfill. In addition, the county has indicated that the ash can be used as daily cover at the landfill. In either case, the project has committed to a monthly ash testing program to ensure the ash meets all disposal regulations.

10. The project will deplete our water resources. How will the project impact groundwater supplies? How much water will the project use? The hydrology report prepared by Kenneth D. Schmidt and Associates concluded there would be a negligible impact on the surrounding wells. The project selected a technology that uses very little water. The project’s water usage depends upon the moisture content of the feedstock. If the wood is green, the project will actually generate a surplus of water. However, since the project will likely use the dry, dead wood scattered throughout the county, the project will use approximately 1.5 gpm from an existing well rated at 20 gpm. The detailed hydrology report is included with the Conditional Use Permit application.

11. What happens when the supply of downed trees is exhausted? Where will the project get additional feedstock? The Fuel Availability Study prepared by TSS Consultants concluded that there was more than two times the biomass required to support the operation the project for twenty years all located within 50 miles of the site The study excluded the dead trees associated with tree mortality. The study also assumed that the plant would require 16,000 bdt per year of fuel, not 12,000 bdt per year, which is the actual requirement of the plant. The primary source of the fuel is the waste material associated with fuel break maintenance and forest thinning.

12. Isn’t the storage of woodchips a fire hazard and is not allowed? No, the storage of woodchips is safe and allowed under current fire codes. The project will comply with all applicable codes and regulations and the project will install a 100,000 gal fire water storage tank and hydrants that will protect not only the bioenergy plant but the neighboring facilities as well.

13. What will the benefits of the project be in Mariposa County? The Biomass Plant will have a very positive economic impact on the county.

• It will create approximately 10 full time, non-tourism related jobs associated with the operation of the plant plus numerous jobs associated with the collection, processing and transportation of the biomass.

• The project provides a more economical way to dispose of the thousands of dead trees within the county in addition to offsetting the costs associated with fuel break maintenance and forest thinning.

• The project provides an alternative way to dispose of dead trees being disposed of at the landfill by paying the county for chipped material and providing the county with landfill diversion credits.

• The project will pay the county approximately $150,000 per year in property taxes.

• The project will hire local construction companies, when possible, to support the construction of the facility.

• The project will reduce air pollution within the county.