Wood biomass is poor alternative
@$ID/NormalParagraphStyle:Yesterday I listened to Bill McKibben’s address to the Vermont House of Representatives.
This morning I read the front page article by Dave Gram (Associated Press) and the lead column on your editorial page titled: “A Bright Red Line.”
Both articles were accurate and well written with a single glaring omission.
Neither article even mentioned the following quote from Bill McKibben’s speech:
“We have to make sure the steps we take will actually help — the carbon numbers, say, for industrial biomass don’t look very promising. But there are literally dozens of other things we could be doing.”
To many of us in North Springfield this may be the most significant sentence of the speech. That is because an industrial biomass facility is proposed for our village and advancing through the Public Service Board at this time. We are spending much effort and personal funds to fight a facility that our federal and state laws encourage.
Consider the effect of industrial biomass on global warming. Our present laws encourage a five-part assault on the environment and government budgets.
1) A wood biomass burning power plant burns wet wood chips to produce electricity at extremely low efficiency and producing as much or more carbon dioxide as an equal capacity coal-fired plant.
2) Trees are harvested which were actively absorbing and sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, only to put that carbon immediately back into the atmosphere and wait a generation for replacement trees to mature to the same level of carbon absorption.
3) Harvesting and transporting the wet wood chips requires fossil fuel energy and creates more emissions than transporting other fuels.
4) Developers of wood biomass-burning power plants are awarded dollars from our national and state taxpayers and national debt in the form of subsidies, tax credits and grants. They may also be allowed to charge higher than market rates to their customer utilities, which in turn get credit for a “green” or “renewable” power supply mix.
5) Operators of wood biomass-burning power plants may sell carbon credits to operators of fossil fuel plants, all the while producing as much or more carbon dioxide than the facilities to which they sell the credits.
The commonwealth of Massachusetts has instituted an efficiency standard for power generation that has the effect of outlawing new wood biomass-burning electrical power generating facilities. This resulted in the cancellation of at least two projects.
Shouldn’t our green Legislature here in Vermont do the same?