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.


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

Massachusetts Legislature Should Put the Brakes on Bad Biomass Regs

The regulations allow unprecedented double-dipping of renewable energy subsidies by polluting bioenergy

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

Massachusetts tops New England in air pollution from wood burning

Why is the State of Massachusetts offering incentives for wood heating when wood burners are already a major source of air pollution in Massachusetts?

Air Pollution, All posts, Biomass basics, Massachusetts, Science/Analysis

International Scientists to UK: Spending Billions to Burn Trees Won’t Help the Climate

To prevent dangerous climate warming, we need to plant trees, not burn them for energy.

All posts, Carbon emissions, European Policy, International, Massachusetts, Subsidies

Groups Urge Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to Count Biomass Carbon Pollution

RGGI should assess whether millions of tons of uncounted carbon pollution from wood-burning power plants undercut efforts on climate.

All posts, Biomass basics, Carbon emissions, Massachusetts

Letter from MA Groups to Congress: Don’t Legislate Bioenergy As Having Zero Pollution

Policy riders forcing EPA to treat wood-burning power plants as emitting zero carbon pollution defy climate science and the demonstrable fact that burning trees for power emits more carbon than coal or gas.

All posts, Carbon emissions, Massachusetts

PFPI Comments on Bioenergy in MA Thermal Standard

Watch this space for comments for upcoming meetings on Massachusetts subsidies for thermal bioenergy, including wood pellets

Air Pollution, All posts, Massachusetts
Photo credit: Dogwood Alliance

Interpreting the Biomass Power Association’s Complaints: An Annotated Guide

The Biomass Power Association wants Massachusetts to rescind regulations on biomass power plants and go back to a system of paying them to pollute because these highly carbon-intensive facilities can’t meet the state’s standards.

Air Pollution, All posts, Biomass basics, Carbon emissions, Massachusetts
Photo credit: Dogwood Alliance

Senators Markey and Warren call for moratorium on bioenergy in the Obama Clean Power Plan

We can’t reduce emissions under the Clean Power Plan by replacing coal with the only thing that emits more carbon pollution: biomass

Air Pollution, All posts, Biomass basics, Carbon emissions, Massachusetts, US Federal Policy

Massachusetts Environmental Groups to EPA – Treating Bioenergy as Having Zero Emissions Undermines the Science

EPA’s decision to override established science and treat biomass energy as carbon neutral is disappointing for clean energy advocates and is a threat to the hard-won, science-based rules adopted in Massachusetts.

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