MA Groups Push Bill to Stop Clean-Energy Subsidies for Woody Biomass Plants
Monday, September 13, 2021
SPRINGFIELD, Ma. -- Groups working to reduce air pollution are testifying at a hearing today to urge state lawmakers to prevent wood-burning biomass from being classified as a renewable-energy source.
Dr. Mary Booth, with Partnership for Policy Integrity, said Massachusetts subsidizes clean-energy production, but regulations need to be strengthened to make sure woody biomass power plants cannot qualify.
She noted biomass can actually produce more carbon dioxide than fossil fuels, and added without technology yet to sequester carbon at a mass scale, maintaining forests is key.
"Forests take carbon out of the air and convert it," Booth explained. "So we need an incentive structure that promotes preserving and restoring forests, not burning them for fuel and liquidating forest carbon stocks into the atmosphere."
Booth said in 2012, the Commonwealth did strengthen regulations to only include wood-burning power plants that would emit less carbon than a natural-gas plant over 20 years. But since then, some protections have been rolled back by the Baker administration in ways she said especially harm communities on the front lines of the climate crisis.
Dr. Brita Lundberg, board chair of Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility, said air pollution from wood-burning power plants leads to negative health outcomes for folks in neighboring communities - from heart disease, stroke and respiratory issues to lung cancer and pneumonia - and increases Medicare costs. She said asking taxpayers to subsidize the pollution of their own communities, or communities in neighboring states, is wrong.
"Air pollution kills more than 10,000 people in the U.S.; 600 people here in Massachusetts just last year," Lundberg reported. "And a disproportionate number of those come from low-income and minority communities."
Lundberg added policy supporting the financing of wood-burning plants does not align with the Commonwealth's commitment to net-zero carbon emissions in Massachusetts and will worsen the climate crisis. She hopes today's hearing will lead to swift passage of the bill, and urged the governor to show leadership on the issue by signing it, if it comes to his desk.
Disclosure: Partnership for Policy Integrity contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, and Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
get more stories like this via email
DENVER - On Wednesday, leaders from Colorado's 13 community colleges joined a national effort to help more of the state's adults get credentials and …
LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- Today, a virtual summit hosted by the Las Vegas Mayor's Faith Initiative looks at the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous …
HOUSTON -- Many U.S. communities with bustling downtowns were better prepared to weather economic fallout from the pandemic, thanks to a decades-old …
MILWAUKEE, Wis. -- A Wisconsin group that advocates for working families is launching a new campaign, which connects federal policy to the …
SEATTLE - Constructive conversations online can seem few and far between. Research from the University of Washington explores how the design of …
Health and Wellness
WATERLOO, Iowa -- Advocates for Iowans with disabilities are sounding the alarm over what they describe as a caregiver crisis, pleading with …
BRAINERD, Minn. - Minnesota boat owners are storing their watercraft for the winter. But that isn't stopping the conversation about responsible water …
BOISE, Idaho - Millions of members around the world, including some Idahoans, are observing International Credit Union Day today. This year marks 73…