Massachusetts Policy

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.

 

MA Pushes to Greenlight Subsidies for Polluting Biomass Power Plants

As the MA legislature is poised to vote on whether it wants polluting biomass in its clean energy legislation, the Baker administration tries to roll back other hard-won rules that limit this dirty energy source.

All posts, Massachusetts, Subsidies

MA House Climate Bill Would Promote Biomass Power Plants as “Non-Carbon Emitting Sources”

Proposed legislation throws a lifeline to a biomass plant developers keep trying to build in an environmental justice community in Springfield MA

Air Pollution, All posts, Massachusetts

Advocates Urge Mass Legislature to Pass Bills Protecting Forests and Climate

Bill McKibben, E.O. Wilson, Join Call for Urgent Action

All posts, Carbon emissions, Forests, Massachusetts

Enviro Advocates Call Out MA Gov. Baker For Promoting Dirty Fuels As Renewable Energy

If the Baker administration gets their way, more so-called “clean energy” in MA will come from burning garbage and biomass

Air Pollution, All posts, Forests, Massachusetts

Springfield Groups Slam ENE for Peddling Polluting Palmer Power to Eastern Mass Munis

The groups urge residents to turn out to rescheduled June 5th hearing on regulatory rollback of MA biomass rules

Air Pollution, All posts, Biomass basics, Carbon emissions, Massachusetts

Baker Administration Plans to Gut MA’s Science-Based Biomass Rules: Attend the Hearings!

The MA Dept. of Energy Resources rollback of protections will allow highly polluting, large-scale wood-burning power plants in Massachusetts. MA residents need to speak up to protect forests and the climate.

Massachusetts

Rebutting MA Forest Alliance Claims About Bioenergy: Our Open Letter to Gov. Baker

MFA’s letter claims wood is “the peoples’ fuel,” but doctors and scientists seem to agree it’s best if those people don’t include children.

Air Pollution, All posts, Biomass basics, Carbon emissions, Massachusetts

Massachusetts Groups Urge Gov. Baker to Stop Using Public Funds to Subsidize Wood-Burning Energy

The Baker Administration is doling out large sums to bolster the logging industry at the expense of the climate

Air Pollution, All posts, Biomass basics, Carbon emissions, Massachusetts

MA House Lawmakers Slip Garbage Burning into “Clean Energy” Proposal

Not the “clean energy” we had in mind: increasing garbage burning on days when air pollution is the worst.

Air Pollution, All posts, Massachusetts

Baker Administration Presses Forward with Weak Biomass Regs; Shuts Down Public Comment

DOER’s biomass regulations will unnecessarily increase greenhouse gas emission and air pollution.

Air Pollution, All posts, Biomass basics, Carbon emissions, Massachusetts, Subsidies