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On World AIDS Day, New Mexico activists say more money is needed for prevention; ND farmers still navigate corporate land-ownership policy maze; Unpaid caregivers in ME receive limited financial grants.

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken urges Israel to protect civilians amid Gaza truce talks, New York Rep. George Santos defends himself as his expected expulsion looms and CDC director warns about respiratory illness as flu season begins.

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Congress has iced the Farm Bill, but farmer advocates argue some portions are urgent, the Hoosier State is reaping big rewards from wind and solar, and opponents react to a road through Alaska's Brooks Range, long a dream destination for hunters and anglers.

Bills Aim to Close Biomass Loopholes in MA Clean Energy Laws

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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.

Disclosure: The Partnership for Policy Integrity contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, and Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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