Major Anti-Climate Provision Added to the Omnibus Appropriations Bill

Sydney Jones

Press Secretary

[email protected]

Carole Mitchell

Sr. Director Communications

[email protected]

The just-released Omnibus Appropriations bill includes a controversial provision that declares burning of biomass for electricity carbon neutral – counting it as an equivalent to truly clean energy sources like solar and wind power, even though biomass greenhouse gas emissions generate approximately 150% the emissions of coal and 300-400% those of natural gas per unit of energy produced. The provision is expected to inhibit the development of the solar and wind industries, and also contribute to increased levels of conventional air pollutions. Ramping up electricity production from forest biomass would take vast amounts of tree and woody material. The proposed conversion of the Boardman plant in Oregon from coal to biomass would require 3.8 million tons of biomass a year, which would be sourced from national forests.

In response, Henry Waxman, Chairman of Mighty Earth, said:

“Just because Congress says burning trees for electricity is carbon neutral doesn’t mean that it is. This provision repeats some of the same mistakes in the Renewable Fuel Standard that has had massive unintended negative consequences for forests, the climate, and consumers. By incentivizing dirty energy, this policy will disadvantage truly clean renewables like wind and solar.

“This provision is a blatant attack on science. Science clearly shows that burning of trees for electricity produces far more pollution than even coal. Congress should leave climate science to the scientists.

“The policy also sets an example for rainforest nations, suggesting that somehow burning forests is a solution to climate change. As such, this policy plays into the hands of some of the world’s worst forest destroyers.”

For additional background, see Chairman Waxman’s op-ed on this topic in The Hill.

Other resources:

Partnership for Policy Integrity Study:  “Carbon emissions from burning biomass for energy”

New York Times: “Next ‘Renewable Energy’: Burning Forests, if Senators Get Their Way”

Oregon Sierra Club Study: PGE Tests Biomass at Boardman Coal Plant – New Report Highlights Climate and Forest Consequences for Country’s Largest Biomass Proposal

Featured photo: © CEphoto, Uwe Aranas

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