Over 100 groups call for end to Biomass Subsidies in Massachusetts

 

Organizations across Massachusetts are calling for an end to biomass subsidies. Take action today: contact your legislators to pass H.3333/S.2197!

On January 12, 2022, over 100 organizations issued a joint letter calling for Massachusetts to enact new legislation ending rate-payer funded subsidies to the biomass industry. Wood-burning is inefficient and highly polluting, generating more carbon emissions per megawatt of energy produced than even natural gas or coal. Wood-burning is a highly polluting and inefficient form of energy generation and heat, generating massive carbon emissions as well as fine particulate matter and other air pollutants that are hazardous to human health.

The proposed legislation, H.3333/S.2197, would remove rate-payer subsidies for woody biomass from the Commonwealth’s two primary clean energy programs, the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), and the Alternative Portfolio Standard (APS), thus aligning Massachusetts’ energy programs with the Commonwealth’s climate targets and public health goals. 

“Ten years ago, Massachusetts adopted nation-leading standards to reduce greenhouse gas pollution from the biomass industry,” said Dr. Mary Booth, director of the Partnership for Policy Integrity. “Governor Baker’s proposed rollback of these standards will increase climate pollution, even as the science tells us we need to slash emissions immediately. Lawmakers urgently need to enact this legislation, which will ensure that Massachusetts ratepayers aren’t forced to subsidize polluting bioenergy anymore.”

“The climate crisis demands we increase the deployment of renewable energy. But we must ensure that the technologies we call renewable can actually help us meet our climate and environmental justice goals,” said Caitlin Peale Sloan, Vice President of Conservation Law Foundation Massachusetts.  “Biomass endangers health in the communities where it is sited and creates more climate-damaging pollution than fossil fuels, and it cannot be considered renewable.”

“Biomass is not clean and should not get subsidized from ratepayers,” said Senator Eric P. Lesser (D-Longmeadow). “I stand united with my colleagues to move our bill forward and ensure that no biomass plants can operate in our neighborhoods, contributing to climate change and high asthma rates.”

“Residents in every community deserve to breathe clean air,” said Senator Adam Gomez (D-Springfield). “A biomass plant, Palmer Renewable Energy, tried to take away that clean air in my district – a community that already struggles with some of the highest asthma rates in the country. Through important initiatives and advocacy we were able to prevent that from happening, but the fight is not over statewide. This legislation would prevent wood-burning biomass plants from reaping the benefits that should only be given to clean, non-emitting energy sources on a state-wide scale.”

“Now more than ever, we should be cognizant of the quality of the air we breathe,” said State Representative Orlando Ramos (D-Springfield).  “It took over 12 years to defeat the biomass proposal in Springfield.  No other community should have to go through what we endured.” 

 “I am proud to stand alongside 100 climate advocacy organizations to keep this polluting energy source out of Massachusetts’ clean energy programs,”  said State Representative Jay Livingstone (D-Boston). “There is no need for us to encourage the use of polluting biomass burning in our state.”

“In order to reach the future that our youth, children and grandchildren need and deserve, we have to leave biomass behind,” said Naia Tenerowicz of the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition. “To protect communities burdened by pollution, to reach net zero, and to move our state forward on the road to climate justice, it’s critical Massachusetts close the door on biomass subsidies once and for all.”

“The legislature must step in to stop Governor Baker and his staff from forcing Massachusetts ratepayers to subsidize the burning of trees for electricity,” said Deb Pasternak, Massachusetts Sierra Club State Director. “Trees play a fundamental role in natural ecosystems and supply clean air, water, and food, recreation, and carbon sequestration for all of us. Burning trees and its associated air quality hazards have no place in our clean energy future.”

Partnership for Policy Integrity