Thursday, December 1, 2022

Play

Access to medication is key to HIV prevention, a Florida university uses a religious exemption to disband its faculty union, plus Nevada tribes and conservation leaders praise a new national monument plan.

Play

The House passed a bill to avert a crippling railroad strike, Hakeem Jefferies is chosen to lead House Democrats, and President Biden promises more federal-Native American engagement at the Tribal Nations Summit.

Play

The first-ever "trout-safe" certification goes to an Idaho fish farm, the Healthy Housing Initiative helps improve rural communities' livability, and a new database makes it easier for buyers and builders to find available lots.

Massachusetts Helping Turn Tide on Biomass Energy

Play

Thursday, September 1, 2022   

Clean-energy advocates are hopeful Massachusetts' leadership on fighting biomass pollution will drive change in other states and nations. The Bay State recently became the first in the U.S. to end renewable-energy subsidies for electricity from wood-burning biomass power plants as part of a new climate law.

Laura Haight, U.S. policy director for the Partnership for Policy Integrity, explained there is a mounting body of science showing woody biomass is bad for the climate and has serious health concerns.

"The communities where these biomass power plants are built are frequently low-income communities of color with elevated health burdens, high rates of asthma and other health-related issues because they're inhaling smoke," Haight pointed out. "This is not healthy air that comes out of the stacks."

Haight noted this is not the first time Massachusetts has taken the lead on climate action. It was one of the first states to set economywide greenhouse-gas emission reduction goals, and to create a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard requiring a certain percentage of the state's electricity to come from renewable energy.

Back in 2012, Massachusetts adopted strict criteria for efficiency and fuels at wood-burning biomass power plants qualifying for the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard. However, Haight said in 2019, Gov. Charlie Baker pushed a proposal which would weaken restrictions and allow polluting power plants from Maine and New Hampshire to sell renewable-energy credits here.

"Ratepayers subsidize these renewable-energy credits," Haight emphasized. "The expectation is that extra money will go towards clean energy, not something that's more polluting than fossil fuels."

Haight argued other laws need to be changed in Massachusetts to prevent burning wood from being subsidized as either clean energy or clean heat. She is hopeful the next governor will be more responsive to the public's concerns.

"We had been challenging these proposed new rules since 2019, and they would have been finalized next month if it were not for the Legislature making this change," Haight added. "Nobody wanted it; there was just widespread public opposition to these rule changes."

New Hampshire's governor is opposing new biomass subsidies and Connecticut is restricting eligibility of biomass plants. This fall, the European Union will consider a proposal to prohibit the combustion of primary woody biomass from counting towards renewable-energy goals.

Disclosure: The 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
The gold dome on the Iowa Capitol has been gilded five times. The gold leaf covering the dome is 250,000th of an inch thick and is 23.75 karats. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

2022 was a banner year for women elected as governor. Nearly one-third of America's governors will be women next year, which is a record. Iowa …


Environment

Residential water rates in Michigan are soaring, with an estimated one out of ten households without access to or unable to afford clean water…

Environment

Fracking is a very water-intensive industry, and a new study dives into the impact of unconventional oil and gas drilling on aquatic ecosystems in …


Tom Oliver, center, receives the 2022 Washington Andrus Award for Community Service. (Bruce Carlson/AARP Washington)

Social Issues

A Bellingham man who supports people with dementia has received one of the most prestigious awards for volunteerism in Washington state. The …

Social Issues

Native American tribal communities and conservation groups got a big win Wednesday as President Joe Biden announced he intends to create a new nationa…

The 2020 Iowa caucuses were beset with tabulation problems, which set off a discussion on whether to shake up the Democratic primary process. (Scoutori/Adobestock)

Social Issues

A decision could come today on Nevada's bid to become the first state in the nation to hold a Democratic primary in 2024. The Democratic National …

Environment

Snow is on the ground in much of Minnesota, but the state is coming off another warm season with notable drought conditions. Those who monitor …

Environment

By Ray Levy Uyeda for Yes! Magazine.Broadcast version by Mike Moen for Greater Dakota News Service reporting for the Solutions Journalism Network-…

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021