Sunday, March 25, 2018

Congress Says Biomass Is Carbon-Neutral, but Scientists Disagree

Using wood as fuel source could actually increase CO2 emissions.

(Credit: Jean-Christophe Verhaegen, AFP and Getty Images) Click to Enlarge.
Lawmakers are once again pushing U.S. EPA and other federal agencies to recognize the burning of biomass as a carbon-neutral energy source.  But scientists say that could be a bad move for the climate.

A massive fiscal 2018 federal spending bill unveiled by congressional leaders Wednesday night includes a provision urging the heads of EPA, the Energy Department and the Agriculture Department to adopt policies that “reflect the carbon-neutrality of forest bioenergy and recognize biomass as a renewable energy source.”

The language has appeared in similar forms in previous spending bills the last few years, due to pressure from lawmakers in forest-heavy states.  This latest version follows recent comments by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt declaring biomass a carbon-neutral energy source.  He has billed the change as part of the administration’s broader efforts at “energy dominance.”

In a letter to New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) last month, Pruitt stated the agency’s decision was partly in response to concerns articulated by the forest and forest products industry.

But scientists have been expressing concern for years about the emissions produced by burning biomass.  Many experts suggest that declaring wood burning a carbon-neutral form of energy is not only inaccurate, but a potential step backward for global climate change mitigation efforts.

Read more at Congress Says Biomass Is Carbon-Neutral, but Scientists Disagree

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