Late last year, the Obama administration and the EPA released the potentially game-changing Clean Power Plan. To date, this is the boldest policy the US government has initiated to tackle climate change. The science is clear, the planet is heating up, and now is the time for action.
Unfortunately, climate deniers and special interests are fighting tooth and nail to destroy or water down this plan. Despite the fact that our forests are our best defense against climate change and the scientific community widely views burning forests for electricity as the wrong direction, the Environmental Protection Agency is considering including biomass electricity as a potential pathway for meeting the goals of the plan.
Dogwood Alliance is leading the charge to keep biomass out of the Clean Power Plan.
Today at the close of the first round of comments on the plan, we submitted a letter advocating for Southern forests and communities and against business as usual dirty energy and forest destruction.
Highlights from the comments include:
- Communities Are Concerned and Organizing – The EPA must prioritize investments in energy efficiency and truly clean energy in low-income communities and in a just transition for communities recovering from dirty industries as we move toward a clean energy economy.
- Burning Wood for Electricity Does Not Reduce CO2 Emissions – Burning wood and other forms of biomass in a power plant produce about 3,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour—an emissions rate that is approximately 50% higher than that of a coal-fired power plant.
- Diverting Important Momentum for Wind, Solar, Efficiency, etc. – By enabling and promoting forest-based biomass as a compliance pathway, EPA is potentially diverting continued momentum for scientifically-grounded and non-controversial solutions such as wind, solar, energy efficiency, tidal, etc.
- Flawed Policies Can Have Lasting Effects – A Case Study in the Southeast US – EPA only needs to look to the Southeast to see evidence for what happens when you treat bioenergy as having zero emissions. Driven by flawed renewable energy directives in the EU (with the UK being a primary driver), the volume of wood pellet exports from the US Southeast have quadrupled in the past several years.
- Soil Carbon Emissions Are Significant – Emissions from soil disturbance due to harvesting trees can turn forests into carbon sources instead of carbon sinks given that newly replanted forests often emit carbon for years, despite the rapid growth rate of young trees.
This is only the beginning, and we will all work together to ensure a clean energy future that puts our communities, forests and health first, not corporate profit.