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New Rules in Massachusetts Offer Model for Rewarding Good Biomass
Fact Sheet
Power companies argue that because trees can grow back, they are a renewable and “carbon neutral” fuel source. This misconception is embedded in many existing renewable energy policies promoting biomass fuels uniformly for electricity production. Massachusetts, for example, realized that its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) regulations were rewarding power companies for burning whole trees, thus undermining efforts to invest in truly low-carbon energy sources. The Commonwealth chose to end this practice by putting in place smart standards to drive the market towards the best sources of biomass—the first standards in the world to set a performance requirement for biomass. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) hails Massachusetts’ new proposed biomass rules as a blueprint for how other states and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can ensure that biomass-fueled energy reduces carbon emissions and protects our nation’s valuable forests. Get document in pdf.

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Comments Submitted on Proposed Final Biomass Regulations for Massachusetts, June 18, 2012
NRDC filed formal comments on the Proposed Final Regulations Regarding Eligibility of Biomass under Massachusetts RPS. We argued that the rules provide a robust and pragmatic set of standards and guidelines to ensure that the state meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals while protecting critical forest resources. The regulations provide a model for future policies at the state, utility, and federal level. In particular, we applauded the state's joint framework for greenhouse gas accounting, plant efficiency thresholds, and forest protection measures that restrict eligible biomass largely to residues from timber harvest. We were, however, very critical of the state's addition of "salvage from fire adapted forest ecosystems" to the list of eligible biomass. While this addition will have little impact in the northeastern states where fire is not predominant, it is a very bad precedent for other states in the west that may be considering the Massachusetts model. Get document in pdf.

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