American Lung Association and Conservation Law Foundation weighing in on issue below.
Stop Spewing Carbon, a group working to get a ballot question before voters to stop state financial incentives for wood-burning power plants, pulled the question today after the state signaled it would fundamentally alter how it calculates the plants' greenhouse gas emission benefits.
Two proposed plants in western Massachusetts have been a lightning rod for controversy over the issue.
After a recent state-commissioned study that concluded wood-burning power plants in many instances was not as carbon beneficial as originally thought, state Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles said he would reconsider the issue. Today, he wrote a letter today directing the state Department of Energy Resources to strictly limit what kind of wood-burning plants would be elgible for green credits. Here is the Stop Spewing Carbon press release:
The Stop Spewing Carbon Ballot Campaign announced today a major victory in the fight against biomass incinerators promoted as “clean energy” and as a result will not put its question on the statewide ballot for November 2010.
“Today Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles issued a letter saying his agency will change our state laws to bring them in line with current science and public policy requiring biomass incinerators to meet strict standards for forest protection, greenhouse gas emissions, and efficiency,” said Meg Sheehan, Chair of the Stop Spewing Carbon Ballot Campaign.
“This is a groundbreaking development that means an end to commercial biomass electric power plants in Massachusetts. Science confirms that the greenhouse gas emissions of burning forests are worse than coal and there’s no reason to subsidize this form of energy,” Sheehan said.
Secretary Bowles’ letter says that to meet greenhouse targets the state should change “the incentives we provide biomass energy under the Renewable Portfolio Standard.” The Stop Spewing Campaign collected over 120,000 signatures from Massachusetts’ voters to end biomass subsidies. Sheehan said, “this sent a clear message to Governor Patrick. Ending renewable energy credits for dirty incinerators was the central goal of our ballot question and we have won.” The state also announced that construction and demolition debris incinerators will not get renewable energy credits, another victory for the Campaign.
“Our coalition of social justice, public health, environmental, forestry advocates and fiscal watchdogs have won a victory for the citizens of Massachusetts, the nation, and indeed the planet,” Sheehan said. “Citizens have let government officials know they don’t want their taxpayer and ratepayer money spent on these toxic incinerators disguised as “clean energy.”
This from American Lung Association:
"We are pleased to see the Patrick Administration better aligning incentives for renewable energy to avoid the threat of additional chemical and particle emissions into the Commonwealth’s already polluted air. However, there are three remaining public health concerns that must be addressed: Regulations under the Department of Environmental Protection must ensure that all biomass combustion facilities be required to install Best Available Control Technology to achieve the lowest emission levels possible. All biomass energy plants must be continuously monitored to guarantee that permitted allowable emission levels and state and federal standards are met, And all construction and demolition debris combustion should be banned. Making this fuel source ineligible for Renewable Energy Credits is an important step in the right direction, but a comprehensive, statewide ban is needed to protect public health.
We thank Secretary Bowles for improved regulations and call on the Patrick Administration to continue looking at not only the environmental impacts of biomass combustion plants and all energy sources, but the public health impacts as well. The American Lung Association in Massachusetts will continue to participate in this process and advocate that energy and environmental policies must adequately protect the health of all Massachusetts residents."
And this statement from CLF:
The Patrick Administration’s new directive on biomass policy is a major step forward on a very complex and hotly disputed issue,” said Sue Reid, senior attorney at the Conservation Law Foundation. “The directive draws on the latest available science about the potential climate impacts of this ages-old energy source, and ensures that renewable energy incentives are directed only toward projects that will help the state reach its aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals and protect Massachusetts forests. We are also pleased that this directive shuts the door on incentives for projects that would combust contaminated construction and demolition debris, a risky business that poses significant environmental and public health threats. Propelled by truly robust citizen advocacy, emerging science and bold leadership, Massachusetts again is leading the nation on climate policy and closing the biomass carbon accounting loophole. The Conservation Law Foundation urges leaders in Washington to take heed, and looks forward to ensuring expeditious implementation of this critical new biomass policy in Massachusetts."
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