WEBINAR slides: The Role of Biomass in the Clean Power Plan – EPA’s Accounting Punt and Emerging Threats to Forests

Wondering what burning trees in power plants means for forests and the climate? Join us for a webinar on the role of biomass energy in EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

Download the slides here 

In summer 2014, EPA released the Clean Power Plan, which is intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector by 2030.  The plan calls for various measures, including reducing emissions from coal plants and increasing the use of renewable energy.

In November 2014, EPA released a memo indicating that the Agency intends to allow nearly all kinds of biomass to be burned for energy and counted as having zero carbon emissions under the Clean Power Plan, as a way for states to “mitigate” their power sector emissions.

EPA’s proposal threatens forests and the climate.  Not  only does burning biomass emit 50% more CO2 than coal, making it far from “carbon neutral” in timeframes that are meaningful for addressing climate change, but counting biomass as having zero carbon emissions actually incentivizes forest cutting in the name of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

This isn’t just a problem for the US power sector – EPA’s plan will greenlight other countries counting biomass energy as zero carbon, as well.  Already, the UK and Europe are importing millions of tons of amounts of pelletized wood fuel sourced from North American forests, for burning as “carbon neutral” fuel in massive coal plants like the 3,000 MW Drax coal plant in the UK.

The Partnership for Policy Integrity and its predecessor organization has been working on the climate, forest, and air quality impacts of biomass energy since 2008.  The webinar will cover the explosive growth underway in the wood and pellet-manufacturing  industries, the role of wood-fired bioenergy in the Clean Power Plan, and what EPA’s decision to treat biomass energy as having zero emissions could mean for forests and the climate.  In particular, we will explain the basics of carbon accounting for bioenergy, provide modeling examples of how bioenergy emissions change through time, and explain why EPA’s threat to ignore bioenergy emissions contradicts the findings of their own scientists.

Image: Drax Power Station as seen from a train travelling north on the main East Coast line.

© Copyright Dave Pickersgill and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Partnership for Policy Integrity