Debate Brews Over Maine Biomass Bailout

Maine taxpayers’ support of wood-to-energy facilities around the state has been called both a waste and a lifeline to rural forest economies. With one notable exception, there’s general agreement that Maine lawmakers’ latest support for biomass energy is a subsidy. A report in April panned that latest government support and past efforts for policymakers to […]

Maine taxpayers’ support of wood-to-energy facilities around the state has been called both a waste and a lifeline to rural forest economies. With one notable exception, there’s general agreement that Maine lawmakers’ latest support for biomass energy is a subsidy.

A report in April panned that latest government support and past efforts for policymakers to help Maine’s biomass industry, an argument that hinges on one contested point: is biomass good or bad for the environment?

The Portland-based Biomass Power Association commissioned a case study published in May that concluded harvesting tops and limbs of trees emitted less carbon than a standard natural gas-fired generator in the short-term. In the long-term, it was on par. The study doesn’t contend that biomass is “carbon neutral,” meaning a process that releases no net carbon into the atmosphere.

The association’s president, Bob Cleaves, said the results were “decisive” in an article in Biomass Magazine that focused on the emissions savings when compared with natural gas.

“In one year, the biomass-fueled power plant saved 115 percent of the carbon emissions of natural gas,” he wrote. “Comparing the two fuel sources for 100 years, the carbon savings held steady at 98 percent, after taking into account the fuel needed to cut, chip and transport the fuel to a biomass facility.”

From the Bangor Daily News: http://bangordailynews.com/2017/07/14/business/debate-brews-over-biomass-bailouts-impact-on-maines-environment/

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