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It appears a citizens petition to stop large-scale wood-burning facilities from being built in Greenfield for the next year and a half will go to Town Council for a vote as written.

On March 22, the Planning Board, which will send the council its recommendation, discussed the proposed biomass energy and waste-to-energy moratorium written by Janet Sinclair of Shelburne Falls and signed by a couple dozen Greenfield residents. Three of the five board members expressed hesitation about the moratorium language being “too vague in some spots.” They expressed concern about how restrictive the moratorium could end up being if some of its language isn’t tightened, and that it could end up blocking much smaller projects, like an anaerobic digester the town is thinking about for its transfer station.

According to how it is written, the “moratorium shall apply to any biomass facility that has a capacity of more than 1 million Btus per hour, and to all waste-to-energy facilities.” But Sinclair said she and those who signed the petition like it the way it is written and have no intention of changing the wording. If petitioners did decide to rewrite the petition, it would have to go through the process all over again, which means the board and the council’s Economic Development Committee would each have to hold a public hearing, or a joint one. Then, both would have to send a recommendation to the council. Opponents of the 47-megawatt wood-burning power plant proposed for the industrial park, which received a special permit from the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals in 2010, said they had hoped they’d be able to stop that plant with the moratorium, but said they’ve been told that can’t happen.

Some still question whether that is true, because Matthew Wolfe of Madera Energy Inc. of Cambridge, the company that wants to build the Pioneer Renewable Energy plant, has been ordered by a Superior Court judge to amend the special permit, which means he will have to go before the board to discuss his new plans for dry cooling, instead of wet cooling that was part of the original plan that was permitted. Wolfe has until some time in July to go before the board. After that, his permit would be nullified.

— Anita Fritz

SKILLS IN THE WILDS: The Western Massachusetts Green Consortium’s monthly networking event April 10 will feature a presentation by Frank Grindrod of Earthwork Programs on “traditional skills.” The group’s Green Night takes place the second Wednesday at the Clarion Hotel in Northampton at 4:30 p.m. At the meetings, people share brief updates on green building, renewable energy and sustainability-related events and activities.

Grindrod will talk about nature mentoring and teaching traditional skills such as creating your own local medicine, foraging wild edibles, making fire by friction and making your own tools. He will lead a discussion on how this skill building can help build community, improve resiliency and sustainability and bring people in closer harmony with the Earth. He will also speak about balance in one’s life and finding antidotes to “nature deficit disorder.”

Grindrod, a wilderness guide and instructor, owns Earthwork Programs, a wilderness education outfit. He is a graduate of Greenfield Community College’s outdoor Leadership Program and serves as a consultant for environmental education centers.

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