Advocates Urge Mass Legislature to Pass Bills Protecting Forests and Climate

PFPI and RESTORE: The North Woods issued the following news release today:

Advocates for climate and forest protection are urging the Massachusetts Legislature to advance two bills that would protect Massachusetts’ state-owned lands from logging and would stop renewable energy subsidies from being used for wood-burning power plants and boilers.

In addition to their ecosystem benefits, both bills would provide huge climate benefits – one by expanding our natural forests’ capacity to store carbon, and the other by eliminating incentives for treating forests as fuel and redirecting subsidies to zero-emission renewable energy resources.

Both bills have been pending in the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture (ENRA) since last year. Under joint legislative rules, committees must report all bills out by February 5th in order for them to be acted on.

In an opinion piece published this week in Commonwealth Magazine, noted environmental author, educator and activist Bill McKibben wrote, “Many of the things we need to do to fight climate change will be hard, and some will be expensive. But a lucky few strategies are not only effective but also simple. In this case, a crucial solution requires only the stroke of a pen. Well, two strokes, for two bills that are pending in the Massachusetts Legislature, which can be implemented immediately and will not cost taxpayers a dime.”

H.897, sponsored by Rep. Susannah Whipps, would protect all Massachusetts state conservation land as parks or reserves where forest ecosystems are guided primarily by natural processes, similar to our National Parks. Climate scientists, biodiversity experts, and environmental organizations have testified in support of this proposal and thousands of concerned citizens from over 160 municipalities around the state have signed petitions, called, or written to the ENRA Committee. The world-renowned Harvard biologist Dr. E.O. Wilson wrote, “This is the single most important action the people of the state can take to preserve our natural heritage. As it has many times in the past, Massachusetts can provide leadership on this issue, inspiring other states across the country to take similar bold action.”

H.853, sponsored by Rep. Denise Provost, removes wood burning and garbage incineration from the list of technologies eligible for renewable heating incentives in the state’s Alternative Portfolio Standard (APS) due to their elevated carbon emissions and harmful air pollution. In addition, in response to sweeping rule changes proposed by the Baker Administration that would allow highly polluting biomass power plants to qualify for renewable energy credits in Massachusetts’ Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), more than 60 local, state and national organizations sent a letter to ENRA committee members last week urging them to amend the bill to remove eligibility for biomass from the RPS as well. “It is absurd to use dedicated clean energy funding to subsidize technologies that actually increase CO2 emissions and air pollution,” said Bill McKibben.

“Trees are an important part of both sides of the [climate] equation,” McKibben wrote in Commonwealth. “Put simply, to fight climate change, we need to stop burning trees and let them grow. And the latest science makes clear that the longer and larger they grow, the more carbon they suck up.”

Link to H853 factsheet

 

Link to H897 factsheet

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