Our roots are in Massachusetts, where we helped turn the tide on the biomass industry. 

In 2008, after three large wood-burning power plants were proposed in western Massachusetts, PFPI’s founder, Dr. Mary Booth, joined a community of scientists and activists who were alarmed about the impacts these plants would have on forests, air pollution, public health, and our climate.  Among other things, we pushed the Patrick Administration to eliminate renewable energy subsidies for biomass power plants based on the net carbon impact of burning wood for energy.  Ultimately, we prevailed, and in 2012 Massachusetts became the first in the nation – and the world – to recognize that biomass power is not carbon neutral.   

When all of our progress came  under threat by a new administration, PFPI fought back. The Baker Administration sought to roll back these precedent-setting biomass standards. First, the MA Department of Energy Resources (DOER) weakened standards for wood-heating in the state’s Alternative Portfolio Standard. Then, in 2019, it proposed the same  changes to the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) regulations, in order to “streamline” the two programs. These changes would allow  highly polluting biomass electricity plants to once again qualify for lucrative subsidies in Massachusetts. 

Working in coalition with local groups and elected officials in Springfield, MA, where the community was still fighting one of the three original proposed biomass plants, we launched the No Toxic Biomass campaign to highlight both the climate and the environmental justice impacts of biomass energy. Ultimately, the campaign succeeded not only in persuading the MA Department of Environmental Protection to revoke the air permit for the Springfield biomass plan in 2021, but also convincing the State Legislature to remove woody biomass from the RPS entirely as part of Massachusetts’ new climate law enacted in 2022. More than 100 groups supported this and further biomass policy reforms in Massachusetts.

Stay tuned for information about our future campaign priorities in the Bay State.

Recent Posts

polluting wood stove fire smoke

Wood heating eclipses all other sources of PM2.5 pollution in Massachusetts

For Immediate Release: Thursday, April 25, 2024 Contact: Laura Haight, US Policy Director, lhaight@pfpi.netJacob Carter, Staff Scientist, jcarter@pfpi.net Wood heating eclipses all other sources of … Read more

Massachusetts’ Climate Forestry Committee Recommendations: Follow the Science

Governor Healey asked for – and received – strong scientific support for protecting forests for their climate benefits
Massachusetts state house with golden dome

New Bills Will Close Loopholes in Massachusetts’ Clean Energy Laws

New state bills in Massachusetts would end subsidies for woody biomass.

Massachusetts First in the Nation to End Renewable Energy Subsidies for Wood-Burning Power Plants

A new Massachusetts law expands clean energy development and ends renewable energy subsidies for wood-burning power plants.

PFPI Applauds MA House & Senate for Standing Firm on Climate Bill

Legislators Reject Gov’s Proposal to Gut Biomass Provisions, Strike Biomass from RPS.

Governor Baker Tries to Sneak Biomass Into Climate Bill

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker vetoed comprehensive climate legislation, sending the bill back with amendments that would effectively protect subsidies for old, dirty biomass power plants.

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