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Burning trees for electricity? tell the senate that doesn't make sense

Action: Stop Pollution

March 10, 2016   Action Alert ID# 348


The U.S. Senate is considering a bill that contains an amendment that would force government agencies to ignore carbon pollution from forest bioenergy -- the large-scale burning of trees to generate electricity. The senators who introduced the amendment argue that burning forests is "carbon neutral" because new trees may eventually reabsorb carbon as they grow.

That's profoundly anti-science.

Wood-burning power plants release even more carbon than coal or gas plants per megawatt-hour, so replacing coal and gas with wood increases immediate climate pollution. Even if all the trees we burn today are replaced by new trees -- and there's no guarantee that will happen -- it will take decades or longer for the carbon to be reabsorbed. And we need to tackle the climate crisis right now.

For the past few years the EPA has been working with scientific experts to figure out how to account for carbon emissions from burning wood, and other fuel derived from biomass, in a scientifically credible way. But the new amendment would slam the door on that scientific process by requiring the EPA to pretend CO2 created by burning wood simply doesn't exist. Solving the climate crisis and protecting America's forests requires following the science, not trying to change the laws of physics.

Treating wood as carbon neutral would promote dirty, inefficient energy production, undermining any gains we make under the Clean Power Plan, Paris Accord or other climate policies. Instead of looking for more things to burn, we should be focused on clean-energy options like wind and solar.

The amendment also could lead to a ransacking of our forests. In Europe, where regulators ignore biomass carbon, huge power plants are already importing shiploads of wood pellets -- made by clearcutting native forests -- from the United States. If the EPA follows suit, many more of our trees will fall, taking precious habitat and wild creatures with them.

Ask your senator to remove amendment No. 3140 from S.B. 2012 and oppose any similar efforts to override clear scientific facts for political expedience.

March 10, 2016   Action Alert ID# 348


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