Biomass Campaign Heats Up

As a massive Oregon power plant gears up to convert from burning coal to burning trees, a Congressional fight over whether or not forest biomass is carbon neutral is more than just theoretical.

Mighty is part of the campaign to ensure that carbon pollution from burning biomass is properly counted. Instead of including burning trees in the same category as wind or solar power, Mighty is leading efforts to convince key members of Congress to reject legislative proposals to declare forest biomass ‘carbon neutral.’ In Oregon, our efforts helped get over twenty environmental organizations signed onto a letter to Senators Wyden and Merkley in October to ensure that biomass’ carbon footprint is determined scientifically, not arbitrarily rounded down to zero.

Read more about the campaign in local coverage.

From the Oregonian:

The [climate and conversation] groups say the [carbon neutral] designation is scientifically inaccurate. They also believe it would spur the expansion of large-scale biomass plants that spew greenhouse gases and other pollutants by protecting them from future carbon regulation.

“This could fundamentally change the industry, and we could see our forest management practices altered on the need to feed these plants,” said Alexander Harris, a conservation organizer with the Sierra Club.

“It’s not carbon neutral, and we should be having an honest debate about whether we want to be treating our forests as feedstock,” said Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist at the Geos Institute in Ashland. “These are natural systems, not feedstock.” More.

From the East Oregonian:

The Environmental Information Administration suggests all that biomass would not actually displace coal use in the U.S., instead taking a 21 percent bite out of solar energy.

“It’s displacing other renewables,” said Mary Booth, director of Partnership for Policy Integrity, an environmental think tank. “There’s no question it increases stack emissions.” More.