Ant-biomass Lobby Takes to the Halls of Congress

Our friends at various groups around the country fighting wood-burning biomass facilities took to the halls of Congress today to lobby for the end of unjust subsidies for biomass…

Anti-Biomass Incineration & Forest Protection Campaign Lobbies Washington, D.C. Legislators

The national grassroots Anti-Biomass Incineration and Forest Protection Campaign is in Washington, D.C. on July 14 and 15 meeting at the offices of key members of Congress, including staff of Senators Kerry, Waxman and members of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The Campaign seeks to eliminate subsidies for incinerators that burn trees and other biomass for electricity. The Campaign demands that Congress follow the example of Massachusetts and require proper accounting of CO2 emissions, redirect subsidies and supports to renewable energy technologies that do not involve burning, and end logging of public and private forests for the purpose of burning the trees in incinerators.

“Our group represents citizens from all walks of life who are angry that our tax dollars are being used to fund incinerators disguised as ‘clean energy’ under the ARRA stimulus bill and tax bills,” said attorney Meg Sheehan from Ecolaw. “These incinerators emit toxic air pollution that causes cancer, asthma and heart disease.”

The American Lung Association, Massachusetts Medical Society, and regional medical associations representing over 77,000 doctors across the United States oppose federal incentives for biomass incinerators.

“Over the past year, we have seen a groundswell of opposition against biomass as people learned the facts about how these incinerators pollute our air, make people sick, dry up rivers and incinerate our forests for so-called ‘clean energy and jobs.’ People are angry and we’re here to let Congress know that it is in the best interest of the public health and our economy to end funding for these incinerators” said Sheehan.

Samantha Chirillo, volunteer Co-Director of Cascadia’s Ecosystem Advocates, based in Oregon, explained that Senator Ron Wyden’s bill, the Oregon Eastside Forests Restoration, Old Growth Protection, and Jobs Act of 2009 (S. 2895), exemplifies many bills currently in Congress and recently passed federal laws, like the Farm Bill in 2009. “These bills subsidize vastly increased logging on millions of acres of our public forests, including old growth forests, to use the wood and other biomass in tax-subsidized incinerators. Wyden’s bill and others like it in Congress must be defeated, otherwise we will lose our forests and undermine rural economic security for future generations.”

Carl Ross of Save America’s Forests in Washington, DC, pointed out that forests have grown and nurtured themselves for over 60 million years without chainsaws and bulldozers. But now the timber industry, after clearcutting most of America’s forests, claims that the remaining forests need to be restored with even more logging. “It is amazing that this absurd claim that cutting down our nation’s remaining forests, including old growth forests, and burning them in incinerators, benefits forests. Fortunately, thanks to the groups in Massachusetts and other states, this corporate nonsense is finally being exposed. Now Congress needs to learn these facts and change their policies in accord with science and public opinion.”

Cheryl Johncox of the Buckeye Forest Council said, “Ohio is ground zero for biomass incineration and forest destruction. The 2100 megawatts of proposed biomass-burning schemes before Ohio’s Public Utilities Commission will use whole trees that otherwise would not be cut.  This is a double whammy: significantly reducing our major source of carbon sequestration while spewing all that carbon directly into the atmosphere. These proposals will require sixty times the amount of “forest residue” in Ohio. They will devastate Ohio public and private forests, as well as likely consume forests of other states and even Canada.”

Rachel Smolker of Biofuelwatch stated, “The idea that burning things is a solution to climate change is misguided. I was shocked to see, for example, that the Senate climate bill offered numerous supports to biochar, which is fine-grained charcoal made from burning wood or other biomass. Proponents claim that adding biochar to soils can sequester carbon and improve soil fertility, but these claims are unsupported by science, untested and exaggerated. Yet Congress has bought it hook line and sinker and would, unbelievably, provide supports for up to 60 facilities around the country that would gobble up biomass under the guise of ‘fast mitigation.’”

Mike Ewall of Energy-Justice Network stated, “Promoting biomass incineration as renewable energy brings polluting smokestacks to communities instead of the clean jobs and energy conservation, wind and solar projects they assume such policies will support.”


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