In Michigan, Debate Over Burning Trees For Biomass Energy

As Michigan considers expanding its renewable energy standard, new research is raising questions about what types of biomass should be included. Michigan’s current renewable energy standard, written in 2008, defines biomass as a renewable energy source. But based on four relatively recent studies, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is urging the state to remove […]

As Michigan considers expanding its renewable energy standard, new research is raising questions about what types of biomass should be included.

Michigan’s current renewable energy standard, written in 2008, defines biomass as a renewable energy source. But based on four relatively recent studies, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is urging the state to remove whole trees from its list of allowable fuel sources.

In comments to the Michigan Public Service Commission, the NRDC said it recommends using “short-rotation crops, wood waste and reclaimed wood, and timber harvest residues (tops and branches)” instead of whole trees for biomass energy generation.

In April, research from Partnership for Policy Integrity (PFPI) has added fuel to the discussion. A paper published by PFPI’s founder, Mary Booth – “Trees, Trash, and Toxins: How Biomass Energy Has Become the New Coal” – said the Environmental Protection Agency should regulate emissions from biomass energy plants more closely than it does today. The paper also said the sustainability of burning wood as fuel is questionable.

“Biomass power plants are also a danger to the climate… Emissions of CO2 from biomass burning can theoretically be offset over time, but such offsets typically take decades to fully compensate for the CO2 rapidly injected into the atmosphere during plant operation.”

From Midwest Energy News: http://www.midwestenergynews.com/2014/05/02/in-michigan-debate-over-burning-trees-for-biomass-energy/

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