PFPI was founded in 2010 to provide a “one-stop shop” for all things biomass power related. While our mission is expanding, our resources page is still focused on providing resources for activists and citizen scientists who want to weigh in on bioenergy policy and projects. Here we provide links to data resources, key studies, examples of comment letters on federal and state rules, and examples of comment letters on biomass air permits. We can provide further resources and assistance (including reprints of linked articles) upon request. 



Overview of the biomass power industry

·         M. Booth report for Environmental Working Group: “Clearcut Disaster” : implications for forest cutting and carbon emissions from biomass under a federal renewable electricity standard

·         PFPI factsheet highlighting CO2, forest, water, and air pollution impacts of biopower, as well as subsidies

·         PFPI comprehensive report on biomass energy in Pennsylvania, including detail on emissions from small-scale biomass burners

·         Synapse report: The Hidden Costs of Electricity – solid overview and comparison of biomass power with fossil fuel generation, includes information on how biomass power is regulated compared with fossil fuels


Wood burning for energy threatens forests

Wood pellet manufacturing is a massive emerging threat to forests

·         Dogwood Alliance campaign (with NRDC): Our Forests Aren’t Fuel

·         Wall Street Journal video  – “Europe’s green-fuel search turns to America’s forests”


The biomass energy industry uses whole trees for fuel

·         Pre-hearing testimony from Duke Energy to the North Carolina Utilities Commission on why the utility needed whole trees to be classified as eligible biomass

·         Compendium of examples of existing biomass plants that use whole-tree chips

·         Evidence of whole-tree burning at Vermont’s McNeil biomass plant


A critical eye on estimates of biomass availability

Washington State

·         Letter to Washington State legislature, explaining how WA State DNR got biomass carbon accounting wrong and how biomass fuel demand in the state will soon outstrip the supply of “residues” (this letter references the proposed 65 MW Adage biomass plant in Mason County; plans for this plant have since been withdrawn)

·         Letter from WA State Lands Commissioner Goldmark to Mason County commissioners, expressing concern that there is not enough wood to fuel proposed Adage plant.


·         PFPI critique of Innovative Natural Resources Solution’s “biomass availability” studies for Vermont


·         Review of Abt et al study that purported to show availability of biomass fuel in Southeast, but which relied on using pulpwood from paper industry to make up fuel deficits


·         Environmental Working Group: Report on the forest cutting and carbon emissions implications of biomass power under the federal renewable energy standard proposed in the American Clean Energy and Security Act (the “Waxman Markey” bill of 2009)

·         Documentation that biomass facilities currently use “whole tree chips” for fuel; Duke Energy statements on need to use whole trees because logging residues are insufficient.


Threats to water resources from biomass energy

·         Synapse report: The Hidden Costs of Electricity – good overview and includes information on water withdrawals from bioenergy compared to other fossil fuels

·         Mary Booth comment letter on water withdrawal permit for Russell Biomass, in Massachusetts (plant now cancelled)

·         Mary Booth comment letter on NPDES permit for Russell Biomass

·         PFPI factsheet highlighting CO2, forest, water, and air pollution impacts of biopower, as well as subsidies


Problems with using wastewater for cooling

·         Concerned Citizens of Franklin County (MA) overview of risks from using wastewater to cooling a biomass plant


Air Pollution emissions from biomass burning

General Resources for air quality research

·         AIRNOW website showing air pollution conditions in real time for the whole country

·         EPA “Greenbook” showing which areas of the country fail to meet EPA air quality standards

·         EPA overview on “criteria” pollutants

·         Directions for downloading EPA’s National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) visualizations and data


Biomass plants can be large polluters

·         News Release: Large fines from EPA for two polluting biomass burners in California

·         Wall Street Journal article: “Wood-fired plants generate violations”


Health effects of biomass energy emissions

·         Congressional briefing on health effects of biomass burning

·         PFPI report on biomass energy in Pennsylvania includes section on health effects of biomass emissions


Health organizations oppose biomass energy

·         American Lung Association Energy Policy that opposes biomass combustion for heat and power

·         Massachusetts Medical Society passes a resolution against large-scale biomass plants

·         Florida Medical Association resolution against waste incineration and biomass burning

·         American Lung Association letter urging federal renewable energy legislation not promote biomass power

·         American Lung Association (MA) statement of concern about emissions from the proposed Russell Biomass plant

·         Hampden District Medical Society (MA) statement of concern about Palmer Renewable Energy

·         Comprehensive list from Energy Justice Network: statements from medical societies and ALA on health effects of bioenergy


Comment letters on air permits and environmental filings for biomass plants

  • M. Booth comment on Russell Biomass air permit (plant cancelled)

  • Massachusetts Environmental Energy Alliance (MEEA) comments on Pioneer Renewable Energy facility in Greenfield, MA (plant cancelled).
  • MEEA comments on Palmer Renewable Energy facility (MA)
  • PFPI comments showing that emissions from proposed Domtar/We Energies biomass plant in Rothschild, WI, would significantly increase air pollution; company did not want to spend the money to install really effective emissions controls.
  • PFPI comments on Hu Honua biomass burner proposed in Pepe’ekeo, Hawaii – facility will be a significant source of pollution
  • PFPI comments on the 65 MW Adage plant proposed for Shelton, WA (plant cancelled)
  • PFPI comments on air permit for North Springfield Sustainable Energy biomass plant in Vermont
  • PFPI comments on air permit for North Star tire-wood burner in Wadley, GA
  • PFPI detailed factsheet on air pollution in Lithonia, GA, and how the proposed Green Energy Partners biomass plant will make it worse
  • Greenlaw comment on Green Energy Partners plant in Lithonia GA (PFPI contributed permit analysis)


Burning waste and construction and demolition debris emits toxics

·         Comments demonstrating that plans to “sort” construction and demolition waste for a biomass facility in Massachusetts are inadequate to achieve a “clean” fuel supply.

·         PFPI comments on Barton Renewable Energy Plant in Manchester, UK, which proposes to burn construction and demolition waste.

·         PFPI comments on why Niagara Generation’s petition to the New York State Public Service Commission to make adulterated wood burning eligible for the state’s RPS should be denied

·         The NY PSC’s denial of Niagara Generation’s petition

·         PFPI comments to the State of Massachusetts on why waste gasification is still incineration, and why the state should not lift the incinerator ban

·         PFPI report on Taylor Biomass gasification project in New York, highlighting contamination in the fuel supply and potential emissions


Comments on the federal MACT standards for biomass burners (EPA’s “boiler” and “waste” rules)

·         EPA page: Emissions Standards for Boilers and Process Heaters and Commercial / Industrial Solid Waste Incinerators (“Boiler rule”)

·         Massachusetts Environmental Energy Alliance comment to EPA on inadequacy of “waste rule” to achieve a “clean” biomass fuel stream

·         Massachusetts Environmental Energy Alliance comments demonstrating that plans to “sort” construction and demolition waste and remove contaminated wood are inadequate to achieve a “clean” fuel supply.

·         PFPI comments on Boiler and Waste Rules, July 2012 – detailed comments on why EPA’s rules aren’t protective


Biomass energy is not carbon neutral

Treating bioenergy as carbon neutral has serious consequences

·         Eric Johnson: “Goodbye to Carbon Neutral”

·         Searchinger et al “Fixing a critical climate accounting error” that lays out the fundamental rationale why increasing forest harvesting for fuel will dramatically increase carbon emissions

·         Q&A on “Fixing a critical climate accounting error”

·         90 Scientist letter to Pelosi and Reid on getting carbon accounting right

·         Harmon-Searchinger-Moomaw letter to Washington State legislature on why Washington State Department of Natural Resources got biomass carbon accounting wrong

·         Schulze, E-D., et al. Large-scale bioenergy from additional harvest of forest biomass is neither sustainable nor greenhouse gas neutral. GCB Bioenergy (2012) doi: 10.1111/j.1757-1707.2012.01169.x


Studies demonstrating that biomass energy is large source of greenhouse gases

·         Massachusetts-commissioned Manomet woody biomass study that showed emissions from biomass exceed those from coal

·         Booth/CATF review of Manomet study assumptions – provides short overview of Manomet framework

·         Peer-reviewed version of Manomet Study: Walker, T. et al. 2013. Carbon Accounting for Woody Biomass from Massachusetts (USA) Managed Forests: A Framework for Determining the Temporal Impacts of Wood Biomass Energy on Atmospheric Greenhouse Gas Levels. Journal of Sustainable Forestry, Volume 32, Issue 1-2.

·         Two studies from Europe: biomass power as a “carbon bomb” creating large upfront carbon debt

·         Southeastern Study showing that biopower CO2 emissions exceed those from fossil fuels for 30 – 50 years, even when fast-growing Southern pine plantations are used as fuel

·         Clean Air Task Force overview of Hudiburg, T.W. et al. (2011). Regional carbon dioxide implications of forest bioenergy production. Nature Climate Change: 1-5

·         McKetchnie et alForest bioenergy or forest carbon? Assessing trade-offs in greenhouse gas mitigation with wood-based fuels (email corresponding author for reprint). Burning trees for fuel increases CO2 emissions.

·         PFPI presentation – why forest thinning to reduce fire intensity in California can’t produce carbon-neutral biomass fuel; why California’s ambitious goals for bioenergy will increase CO2emissions


Massachusetts takes biomass power out of the state’s RPS because it emits too much CO2

·         Massachusetts-commissioned Manomet woody biomass study that showed emissions from biomass exceed those from coal

·         Peer-reviewed version of Manomet Study: Walker, T. et al. 2013. Carbon Accounting for Woody Biomass from Massachusetts (USA) Managed Forests: A Framework for Determining the Temporal Impacts of Wood Biomass Energy on Atmospheric Greenhouse Gas Levels. Journal of Sustainable Forestry, Volume 32, Issue 1-2.

·         Initial letter from Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs letter to MA Department of Energy Resources, stating that Manomet study findings justify the state restricting eligibility of biomass power for the state’s renewable portfolio standard; sets conditions

·         Massachusetts regulations that take low-efficiency biopower out of the state’s RPS

·         Congressional briefing from PFPI and NRDC – overview of Massachusetts regulations

·         Booth/Sheehan article in Commonwealth Magazine – the story of the Massachusetts regulations


Comments on how uncounted emissions from bioenergy interfere with state-level greenhouse gas reduction goals

·         PFPI comments on NY climate action plan

·         PFPI comments on role of biomass in New Jersey’s energy plan

·         PFPI comments on role of biomass energy in Vermont

·         PFPI comments on why bioenergy carbon emissions should be counted in Connecticut Renewable Portfolio legislation

·         PFPI presentation on why biomass energy is incompatible with the Tennessee Valley Authority’s renewable energy plans

·         PFPI presentation on why ambitious plans for biopower in California will increase CO2 emissions

·         PFPI comments on why  waste gasification is incompatible with Massachusetts’ plans to reduce emissions


Threat from uncounted bioenergy emissions to Northeastern Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) goal of reducing CO2 emissions

·         PFPI comments that not counting carbon emissions from biomass power threatens integrity of RGGI

·         PFPI comments on NY biomass sustainability standard, finding it is not sufficient to establish biomass as a low carbon or carbon neutral fuel:

·         Massachusetts Environmental Energy Alliance comment on sustainability standard

·         NRDC comment on sustainability standard


Regulation of biogenic CO2 at the federal level

EPA’s deferral of counting biogenic carbon emissions was not justified

  • PFPI comments to EPA on why CO2 emitted by biomass plants should be regulated now
  • July 2013 United States Court of Appeals in DC decision against EPA, tells EPA to count bioenergy CO2 under the Clean Air Act


Responses to EPA’s requests for input about how biomass emissions should be counted

·         Clean Air Task Force et al

·         Center for Biological Diversity

·         Southern Environmental Law Center, et al

·         Tim Searchinger

·         Massachusetts Environmental Energy Alliance comment on Title V permitting guidance for greenhouse gases


Biomass is not Best Available Control technology (BACT) for CO2

·         Booth/Sheehan comments showing that carbon emissions from proposed Domtar/We Energies biomass plant in Rothschild, WI, are far greater from biomass boiler than natural gas boiler.


National Environmental Policy Act assessments should evaluate bioenergy CO2 emissions

·         Comments on NEPA evaluation of Nippon Paper in WA


Biomass emissions mean that "reductions" in greenhouse gases under a federal Renewable Energy Standard exist only on paper

·         M. Booth’s report for Environmental Working Group: “Clearcut Disaster” details implications for forest cutting and carbon emissions from biomass under proposed federal renewable electricity standard


Financial and policy incentives for biomass energy

Research resources: funding available for bioenergy

·         USDOE: Database of state and federal incentives for renewables and efficiency (DSIRE)

·         Biomass Accountability Project: Report: Biomass Electricity: Clean Energy Subsidies for a Dirty Industry

·         PFPI whitepaper on subsidies for biomass power


Why federal funds for bioenergy are a mistake

·         PFPI report on how Taylor Biomass (NY biomass/waste gasifier) application for DOE loan guarantee understates emissions from facility, which should render the facility ineligible for federal funds.