Biomass Energy Growing, EDF Analysis Shows

Publicly available data on investments in biomass energycontradicts claims by the National Alliance of Forest Owners that the inclusion of biomass emissions in the EPA’s Clean Air Act greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting program hinders renewable energy development, according to forestry experts at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

Using data from Forisk Consulting, EDF calculates that existing and announced wood bioenergy projects increased during the past year by nearly 35 percent–from 112 projects to 151 projects–across 11 southern states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. (Only data from the southern U.S. is publicly available for the past year). The total expected demand for wood biomass increased by 10 million green tons, a 76 percent hike in wood biomass demand across the region.

“The science clearly shows that not all sources of biomass are equal in terms of their climate change impacts,” said Will McDow, manager of EDF’s Southeast Center for Conservation Incentives, and a member of both the North Carolina Forestry Technical Advisory Committee and Forestry Council. “The industry has known that EPA was planning to include biogenic emissions in permitting requirements in some way since last spring, yet this fact clearly has not dampened investors’ enthusiasm for bioenergy in 2010.”

“The stakes are too high for EPA to rush to judgment in making biomass emission rules because these biomass plants will produce greenhouse gas emissions for 20 to 30 years,” concluded McDow. “EPA needs to take the time to get the accounting right for biomass emissions to spur the right investments and policies our nation needs to protect forest sector jobs and the natural resources we depend upon.”

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