Trump Coal Power Plan Could Increase Use of Forest Biomass as Coal Replacement

Today the Trump Administration released its long-awaited replacement to the Clean Power Plan. Trump’s proposal would give states flexibility in how they regulate coal plants and relax pollution rules for power plants that need upgrades.

 

Statement from Dr. Mary S. Booth, Director, Partnership for Policy Integrity:

“This plan would reverse the gains we have seen in the power sector, which has seen progress in reducing CO2 emissions in recent years. Trump’s proposal will allow dirty and inefficient coal plants to continue to pollute our air and accelerate global warming.
The plan’s exclusive focus on heat rate improvements at power plants (efficiency improvements) falls far short of what’s required for a plan to be considered as delivering “clean” energy.  There are few meaningful heat rate improvements left to be achieved in the US coal fleet. To be effective, the plan must deliver sector-wide emissions reductions and drive a transition to zero-emissions energy.
In addition, the plan gives states too much leeway to determine their own compliance measures. For instance, while EPA acknowledges that co-firing with biomass is not a “best system of emission reduction” (BSER) due to considerations of cost and logistics, the agency would allow states to use this option to “reduce” emissions, relying on a recent EPA policy change that declares burning wood sourced from “managed forests” is carbon neutral.
EPA leaving the door open for states to replace coal with biomass misses the point that burning biomass decreases overall plant efficiency and thus increases emissions, the opposite of what the plan is supposed to achieve. No amount of pretending will make it otherwise.”
See here for a 7/6/18 blog post by PFPI that explains why co-firing biomass degrades coal plant efficiency and increases emissions.

Partnership for Policy Integrity