The Partnership for Policy Integrity (PFPI) praised the Legislature for passing a strong climate bill on Sunday, July 31st, including provisions to end renewable energy subsidies for woody biomass power plants. The legislature rejected an amendment from Governor Baker that would have sabotaged their efforts to rein in these subsidies.
“With this bill, Massachusetts is once again leading the nation in promoting clean energy and tackling climate change, and the legislature deserves recognition for standing firm,” said Laura Haight, US Policy Director for the Partnership for Policy Integrity (PFPI). “Removing woody biomass from the definition of renewable energy is an historic step, and assures that our resources are directed toward real climate solutions.
“We are thrilled that the House and Senate stood firm on the biomass language, despite intense pressure from Governor Baker to weaken it. We are deeply grateful to Speaker Mariano and Senate President Spilka for standing up for these critical reforms. And we are especially thankful to the committee chairs Sen. Mike Barrett and Rep. Jeff Roy for crafting such a strong climate bill and for recognizing that burning wood for energy should have no role in Massachusetts’ clean energy future . In passing this bill, the legislature is preventing our clean energy dollars from going up in smoke.”
“PFPI gives special thanks to the bill sponsors of biomass reform legislation, Sen. Lesser, Sen. Gomez, Rep. Livingstone and Rep. Ramos, who have led the charge on important proposals to remove woody biomass from the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS),” said James McCaffrey, New England Legislative Director of PFPI. “After Springfield residents spent more than a dozen years fighting a proposed biomass plant that would have added to the environmental health burdens in that community, these legislators understood that it was wrong to use ratepayers’ clean energy funds to subsidize wood burning power plants that are more polluting than coal and harmful to our communities and the climate..”
“Legislative leadership, the Telecommunications Utilities & Energy Chairs and the biomass bill sponsors are true clean air and climate change heroes,” said Arline Isaacson, a spokesperson for PFPI. “We are very grateful to them all, and urge the Governor to sign the bill into law as soon as possible.”
The bill ensures wood-burning biomass plants cannot qualify for Massachusetts’ flagship clean energy program. Specifically, Sections 33 to 36 of the legislation remove woody biomass from eligibility in Massachusetts’ Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS). Governor Baker’s amendment would have created a loophole for biomass power plants built before January 1, 2022. There are dozens of old and polluting wood-burning power plants across New England that currently do not qualify for subsidies under Massachusetts’ existing RPS, but could become eligible under the Baker Administration’s controversial rule changes that are about to go into effect later this summer.