No doubt many of the biomass power plants responsible for emitting 78 million tons of carbon dioxide - more than the combined power sector emissions of 13 states - claim they're burning "sustainably" sourced fuels
PFPI's report "Climate of Deception" found many companies portray wood-burning power plants as having negligible or even zero emissions, although these plants emit more air pollution than coal and gas.
The State of Massachusetts is serious about reducing carbon emissions and policymakers realized that providing renewable energy subsidies to a technology that makes climate change worse didn’t make sense.
By pretending that cutting and burning whole trees doesn’t add carbon to the atmosphere, the newly watered-down Massachusetts regulations claim the legitimacy of being “based on Manomet” - while ignoring that study’s key finding.
What do Australia and Massachusetts have in common? Both governments are have cutting edge energy policies that acknowledge the drawbacks of biomass energy – showing that biomass energy is truly an emerging threat to forests worldwide, but that sane policy responses are possible.
It’s a measure of how pervasive the “biomass benefits climate” myth has become that even the well-respected Climate Progress blog, edited by the great Joe Romm, seems to have bought into the propaganda.
The Massachusetts rules will require for first time anywhere in the world that renewable energy credits for biomass energy be granted based on a common sense, life cycle assessment of the carbon emissions of burning forest wood to generate electricity.
By delaying regulation of biomass carbon, EPA is greenlighting biomass emissions of 350 million tons of unregulated CO2 a year, equivalent to all the coal fired power plants in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Ohio.
The environmental impact assessment from the Department of Energy reads like a biomass industry talking points memo, with whole chunks of text lifted straight from documents submitted by the developer.
EPA does not need to wait three years to assess the greenhouse gas implications of burning biomass for energy, and doing so will create a fleet of permanently unregulated plants that are huge greenhouse gas emitters.
The Manomet study relies on a number of assumptions that minimize the calculation of net carbon emissions from biomass, meaning that actual emissions are likely significantly greater than the study concludes.
The only independent, multi-stakeholder study of the carbon impacts of burning trees to generate electricity found that it would take 40 years of forest regrowth just to get to parity in carbon pollution with burning coal for those same four decades. To get to parity with natural gas would take almost a century.
Acting as if the carbon emitted from trees cut and burned here will be sequestered by trees over there makes as much sense as letting a coal plant write off its emissions because it’s not cutting trees over there, either.
The current boom in biomass energy depends entirely on the mutually reinforcing myths of renewability and carbon neutrality. But in practice, biomass energy is far carbon neutral and actually looks a lot more like coal and oil.