Bills Aim to Close Biomass Loopholes in MA Clean Energy Laws
Wednesday, June 21, 2023
Environmental and community health advocates in Massachusetts are backing new legislation they say will close loopholes in the state's clean energy laws and end renewable energy subsidies for burning woody biomass.
Lawmakers ensured wood-burning power plants were no longer eligible for credits through the state's Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard last session but loopholes in the state's clean energy laws still subsidize burning wood for heat and energy.
Laura Haight, U.S. policy director for the nonprofit Partnership for Policy Integrity, called the bills "common sense."
"We should not be using Massachusetts subsidies intended to clean up our air and benefit our climate to subsidize these polluting sources of energy," Haight asserted.
Haight pointed out burning wood is a major source of fine particulate emissions, which are a serious health hazard. EPA data show residential and commercial wood heating account for 83% of fine particulate emissions in the Massachusetts heating sector.
Environmental activists call wood-burning a "double whammy" for the climate, releasing stored carbon into the atmosphere while burning the very trees needed to absorb the carbon.
Haight acknowledged Massachusetts has been a national leader on climate change and has a chance to lead again.
"Our laws were not perfect to begin with," Haight noted. "But we are looking at it, we are learning from the science and we are correcting them."
Haight has high hopes for the legislation as Gov. Maura Healy supported both proposals during her run for office. The Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee has scheduled two hearings on the bills for June 28.
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