This article discusses the shady way that biomass incinerators pretend to be clean energy.
This past week, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt declared that the EPA would now consider burning wood and other forest products for energy as “carbon neutral,” despite his previous comments expressing doubt that carbon dioxide from human activity (and therefore carbon neutrality) is even a cause for concern. In his announcement about the carbon footprint of the biomass industry, Pruitt even went as far as to claim: “This is environmental stewardship in action.”
Not surprisingly, scientists featured in several media outlets immediately pointed out the error of his statement, and a report, released within days of Pruitt’s announcement, highlights the environmental and public health impacts of the biomass industry.
William Moomaw, a Professor of International Environmental Policy at Tufts University who holds a PhD in chemistry, was blunt in assessing what this change in policy means for the climate.
“Between this and the Europeans it means no chance of staying within the 2 degree [Celsius] limit. It’s just not possible,” Moomaw told Mashable, referencing the Paris Climate Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) or well below 2°C (3.6°F) above preindustrial levels by 2100.
Moomaw’s reference to “the Europeans” highlights the fact that Pruitt is following in the footsteps of the European Union, which has also placed bioenergy, which includes the burning of trees converted to wood pellets, in the same “renewable and carbon neutral” category as wind and solar energy. This issue has been covered in detail in “Pulp Fiction,” a 2015 Climate Central exposé of the biomass-for-energy industry.
Pruitt’s decision was welcomed by the forestry industry, which has been pushing for this “carbon neutral” classification for years and recently hired new lobbyists with old ties to Pruitt. As Inside Climate News put it: “Pruitt’s Friends Became Lobbyists, Then Handed Their Clients an EPA Biomass Win.”