The timber industry wants Congress to change the laws of physics by declaring that burning trees for energy is "carbon neutral" and won't harm the climate. At least three different anti-science proposals are under consideration during the lame-duck session now underway -- and we need you to speak out against them.
Wood-burning power plants release even more carbon than coal or gas plants per megawatt-hour, so switching to wood actually increases immediate climate pollution. And even if all the trees we burn today are replaced by new trees -- which no one can guarantee -- it will take decades or longer for the carbon to be reabsorbed.
But we don't have decades: We need to cut carbon to address the climate crisis right now, and one very good way to do that is simply to keep carbon in the forest and out of the atmosphere.
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 "biomass" in a scientifically credible way. The timber industry's riders would slam the door on this ongoing scientific process by requiring regulators to pretend that CO2 created by burning wood simply doesn't exist.
Treating wood as carbon neutral would sanction and promote dirty, inefficient, high-carbon biomass energy in federal policy, undermining the gains we're poised to make under the Clean Power Plan, Paris Agreement and other climate policies. Instead of looking for more things to burn, we need to be developing and expanding actual zero-carbon options such as wind and solar.
These anti-science riders 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 from the United States, made from clearcutting native southeastern forests. If the EPA follows suit, many more of our trees will fall, taking precious habitat and wild creatures with them.
Help us stop this anti-science effort in its tracks. Ask President Obama and your representatives in Congress to oppose the timber industry's anti-science biomass riders.
November 21, 2016 Action Alert ID# 451
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