MI Groups Call Biomass Proposal 'Flawed, Inefficient'
Monday, August 29, 2022
Environmental advocates are calling a Michigan proposal to use animal and industrial waste as a source of "renewable natural gas" for power generation "flawed," and warned it could hinder the state's ability to meet its decarbonization goals.
The proposal, now being studied by the Michigan Public Service Commission, would use state and federal funds to build what's being called a renewable natural gas facility.
Levi Teitel, rural communications coordinator for Progress Michigan, said there is no scientific proof using anaerobic digestion -- also known as biomass -- is a cost-effective way to fight climate change.
"The concern that many environmental advocates have is that it really is not what many people think of renewable energy like solar panels or wind, particularly for agricultural waste," Teitel explained. "It's not really the best outcome here."
A group of ecology activists called it an inefficient method of reducing greenhouse gases, but a group known as the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas claimed the biomass process can both generate significant amounts of energy, and remove greenhouse gases from the environment.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has set a goal for Michigan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
Teitel noted his group and others are concerned such a plan would only increase the waste products created by industrial farming, while producing a relatively small amount of energy.
"In the food and farm industry, you have these massive operations that are generating immense amounts of waste, and the fact that they exist is a problem in itself," Teitel asserted. "To rely on waste from those operations is not what we should be looking at."
Teitel believes state officials should examine all possible methods for decarbonization, but thinks they should give preference to proven methods, such as wind, solar and hydroelectric generation.
"We need to look to meet these goals because if we don't, then we're set back so far," Teitel contended. "Unfortunately, focusing on things like this is just really where the Public Service Commission and others shouldn't be spending their attention."
Consumers Energy is proposing to build and operate the Michigan-based biomass facility. The Michigan Public Service Commission is scheduled to decide on the proposal later this year.
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