by Chris Matera (Massachusetts Forest Watch)
Massachusetts Forest Watch released a report today (www.maforests.org/MFWCarb.pdf) stating that contrary to the belief that wood fueled biomass burning would help lower carbon dioxide emissions, it would instead dramatically increase them.
According to the group, wood fueled biomass burning is typically touted as a carbon neutral fuel by biomass proponents, but the key assumption about carbon neutrality is unsubstantiated and impossible when using existing forests as fuel.
In the report, wood fueled biomass power plants are shown to be worse than all fossil fuel power plants, including coal, for carbon dioxide emissions per unit of energy produced. Calculations provided show wood fueled biomass power plants emit about 50% more CO2 per MWh than existing coal plants, 150% more than existing natural gas plants and 330% more than new power plants.
Forest Watch spokesperson Chris Matera said, “It really is crazy. Hundreds of millions of dollars in public so-called “green” energy subsidies are being wasted on dirty wood biomass burning of forests instead of going to genuinely clean energy sources such as solar, geothermal, appropriate wind and hydro and importantly conservation and efficiency. At a time when budgets are being slashed, we are throwing away scarce taxpayer money on a caveman technology that will worsen our problems, not help solve them.”
Last Wednesday, a hearing was held in Boston by the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy on House Bill 4458 that would create into law the citizen’s referendum that recently collected over 78,000 certified signatures, which is enough to put the measure on the ballot in November. The ballot measure would put a limit on carbon dioxide emissions in order for renewable energy sources to be eligible to receive taxpayer subsidies and other benefits and would effectively ban taxpayer subsidies from being directed toward wood fueled biomass plants since their carbon dioxide emissions are so high.
"We find that people are willing to support truly clean energy but do not want to pay extra on their electricity bills and tax bills to build these dirty biomass incinerators," said Jana Chicoine of the Concerned Citizens of Russell, "Everyone knows that the proposed biomass incinerators would add to air pollution and make carbon emissions worse, yet the Patrick administration is still forcing us to pay for it. It’s a tragic situation, but we have a chance to fix it in the legislature over the next couple of weeks."
Meg Sheehan, chair of the Stop Spewing Carbon ballot question committee commenting about the hearing added, “last week the Massachusetts legislature received un-rebutted testimony from medical professionals that particulate emissions from wood burning biomass plants increase human mortality. A broad coalition of medical and citizen groups are urging our elected officials to support House Bill 4458 to address this public health threat. Action is needed now," she added.