Eliminate biomass from future energy production in Massachusetts
Please join our campaign to eliminate biomass from future energy production in Massachusetts, which is part of our collaboration with the Amherst LWV, Climate Action Now, and other groups across western MA. Governor Baker’s administration plans to reclassify electricity and heat made by biomass plants as “renewable energy,” in order to justify building more of them, including a large one in Springfield. In Springfield, which has some of the highest asthma rates in the country?
If we want some control over our future, we literally and figuratively cannot throw wood on the fire! The rules must change – at all levels of government.
- All new energy production must release zero carbon and remove carbon from the atmosphere.
- Biomass should not be part of state’s energy production.
We need your help to spread the message. Send emails:D
- Emails to the Department of Renewable Energy (DOER) and Gov. Baker: Message: No more biomass plants. All new energy in MA must be from zero-carbon sources (solar and wind). Deadline for comments to DOER is July 26th.
2. Emails to the chairs of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture: this joint House and Senate committee is holding two bills that are both related to biomass burning and environmental justice.
- H. 853 removes incentives for biomass burning and prevents classifying it “renewable.”
- H.761/S.464 puts into law the right of all MA citizens to clean air and water, which is in the state Constitution, but is not being enforced. This law is designed to provide environmental justice to low-income, racially diverse communities, like Springfield, by keeping out polluting industries. Message: Both bills must be passed this year.
- DOER: email@example.com subject line: Re: RPS Class 1 and RPS Class 11 Rulemaking – 225 CMR 14.00 and CMR 15.00
Or mail letters to MA DOER, Attn. John Wassam, 100 Cambridge Street, Suite 1020, Boston, MA 02114
- Governor Charles Baker: Massachusetts State House, 24 Beacon St., Office of the Governor, Room 280,Boston, MA 02133
- Chairs of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture:
Anne Gobi, firstname.lastname@example.org
Smitty Pignatelli, email@example.com
Please share this action with friends and relatives, especially your kids and grandkids, our greatest source of inspiration!
Biomass background info
- We are in the midst of a climate crisis/emergency.
- The Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) is the minimum percentage growth rate of renewable energy that electric utilities must use. Currently the growth rate is 1%/year. A 2018 law increases the growth rate of renewables to 2%/year, starting in 2020 – GOOD NEWS. In order to help the electricity companies reach the new goal, Governor Baker’s administration wants to change the regs and declare energy from wood and garbage burning “renewable” – BAD NEWS.
- MA has 2 renewable energy standards – one for electricity production – Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS), and one for heat production – Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (APS). The APS was originally designed for energy -efficient heating systems, such as ground source heat pumps, solar hot air and water. EXELLENT. WE NEED THIS.
- Millions of dollars of grant money for APS, energy-efficient heating systems, is being diverted to building biomass burning plants and garbage incinerators. (80% subsidies for construction, then we ratepayers are charged for that energy.)
- As a result of tremendous public outcry for years, the original environmental standards that were created when the biomass burning program began, were strong. Since then, the emissions standards have been drastically reduced, without public comment. As a result of weak standards, burning coal is far cleaner than burning wood or garbage. And all of this burning releases heavy metals, and substances that cause smog and acid rain. And it releases huge amounts of fine particulates, soot, that cause all kinds of health problems.
- Burning wood and garbage increases carbon emissions. Combustion releases carbon. Period. That’s physics.
- Forests are huge carbon sinks. We should be planting more trees, not burning them.
- Here’s the problem – Governor Baker proudly supports biomass power plants and garbage incinerators as clean, renewable energy.
Last year more than 50% of the “renewable energy” in New England’s power grid came from biomass and garbage burning. This is real “fake news.”
The Springfield biomass project was the subject of nearly a decade of litigation, regulatory challenges, and protests by environmental organizations, neighbors, and elected Springfield officials, who contend it would raise air pollution and exacerbate already high rates of asthma in the region. Springfield City Councilor Jesse Lederman, with four other councilors at his side, spoke at the DOER hearing. ” We stand before you to submit testimony in opposition to the proposed revisions to the renewable portfolio standard that would allow for ratepayer subsidies to be granted to large scale wood-burning incinerators in Massachusetts,” said Lederman as members of the audience broke into applause and cheers.
Sample letter to DOER
Dear Mr. Wassam:
I am writing as a representative of the Northampton/Springfield League of Women Voters, regarding the proposed changes to the MA Renewable Portfolio Standard Class 1 and Class 11 Regulations. We are strongly opposed to the construction of any new biomass plants in Massachusetts.
Climate scientists say that in order to avoid catastrophic warming, we must cut carbon emissions in half in the next ten years. Every energy policy decision made in MA must be aimed at achieving long-term carbon emission reductions. It is unconscionable, then, to consider reclassifying biomass burning as “renewable energy,” or to weaken emissions standards so much that wood burning plants would release far more carbon dioxide and pollutants than do coal-fired plants. Burning anything, including garbage, speeds our trajectory toward climate chaos.
A plan to locate a biomass plant in Springfield is outrageous. Most areas in Springfield are classified as Environmental Justice populations, as defined by the MASS DEP. The proposed Palmer plant would increase fine particulates in Springfield, “the most challenging place in the country for a person with asthma to live in,” according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation.
Requiring taxpayers to subsidize construction of new biomass plants is wrong. In order to reach our goal of cutting carbon emissions in half in the next ten years, we must transform our electricity production. Our subsidies should go to generating all electricity from zero carbon sources (solar and wind), and to building an electric grid capable of storing and distributing power as needed. Our forests must be protected and expanded. Recent scientific research, reported by the World Economic Forum, confirms that forests are absolutely essential in mitigating climate change, thanks to their carbon sequestering and storage capabilities.
All decisions made by the DOER must be based on climate science and environmental justice.
Nancy Polan, Legislative DirectorNorthampton Area League of Women Voters
Sample letter to Senator Anne Gobi
Dear Senator Gobi,
I am writing to you as a representative of the Northampton Area (includes Springfield) League of Women Voters (LWV). We urge you, as chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, to work for swift passage of H.761/S.464, An Act relative to environmental justice and toxics reduction in the Commonwealth, and H.853, An Act to Assure the Attainment of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Goals in the Alternative Portfolio Standard. If passed together, these bills would strengthen environmental regulations and protect low income, racially diverse communities from further environmental degradation. The need is particularly acute right now, as Springfield is mounting a huge protest against the proposed Palmer biomass plant. In Springfield, with some of the highest asthma rates in the country!
The LWV supports H.761 on moral and constitutional grounds. All residents in Massachusetts have the right to clean air and water, as written In Article 97 in the state Constitution. Those protections have not been enforced. A 2018 report by the EPA makes it clear that Article 97 has not protected everyone. People in environmental justice communities have borne the brunt of pollution from projects such as the Palmer plant. H.571 must be passed to establish in law the values that give allpeople access to clean air, water, and a healthy environment.
The LWV is strongly opposed to construction of any new biomass plants to generate heat or electricity. Climate scientists say that in order to avoid catastrophic warming, we must cut carbon emissions in half in the next ten years. Every energy policy decision must be aimed at achieving long-term carbon emission reductions. It is unconscionable, then, to consider reclassifying biomass burning as “renewable energy,” or to weaken emissions standards so much that wood burning plants would release far more carbon dioxide and other pollutants than do coal-fired plants.
Rather than subsidizing biomass plants, subsidies should go to rapid expansion of electricity from zero-carbon sources (solar and wind), and to building an electric grid capable of storing and distributing power as needed. Keep and expand our forests because they are absolutely essential in mitigating climate change by sequestering and storing carbon.
We look to your leadership by ensuring that all energy and environmental decisions are based on climate science and environmental justice.
Legislative Director, Northampton Area League of Women Voters