The biomass industry often claims they don’t burn whole trees for fuel. New pictures from the fuel stockpile for the 50-megawatt McNeil biomass plant in Burlington, Vermont show beyond any doubt that not only are whole trees burned for fuel …
…but these are quite large trees, indeed.
Low-efficiency electricity-only biomass plants like McNeil emit more CO2 than fossil fuel plants. When trees are used for fuel, this not only emits more CO2 directly, but also reduces the forest’s ability to take carbon dioxide out of the air. The net CO2 emissions from burning trees to generate power in low-efficiency plants like McNeil are so much higher, it actually takes more than 40 years of forest regrowth to reduce CO2 levels to the level emitted by fossil fuels over that same period. Why should taxpayers and ratepayers pay more for this phony “carbon neutral” power that actually makes climate change worse?
McNeil from the air. The sawdust pile represents hundreds of thousands of whole trees. Trees ready for chipping can be seen piled behind the plant.
Greenhouse gas emissions are not the only problem. Cutting trees for fuel degrades our forests, which are already stressed by climate change and fragmentation. It would take millions of acres of forest harvesting to provide even a small fraction of power generation in the U.S. – for instance, the 75 MW biomass plant proposed in Berlin, NH, which will burn 113 tons of “whole logs” an hour, would require the equivalent of clearcutting about 10,000 acres of New Hampshire’s forests per year.
The threat isn’t just to New England’s forests. In North Carolina, the NC Court of Appeals denied an appeal by Environmental Defense Fund and Southern Environmental Law Center, thereby allowing whole trees to qualify as "renewable" fuel the under the State Portfolio Standard. Multiple biomass burning plants proposed in the Southeast pose an unprecedented threat to forests.
All around the country, the expanding biomass industry is selling its “green and clean” propaganda, and policy-makers are still buying. It’s time to wake up to this huge green energy scam.