Biomass in the News

Check out these links to see how the fight against biomass is showing up in the news.

In the nation’s asthma capital, plans to burn wood for energy spark fury

Posted October 20, 2020

SPRINGFIELD — For more than a decade, Amy Buchanan has lived in a small house in an industrial section of the state’s third-largest city, where a pall of pungent air hangs over the neighborhood and heavy trucks spew diesel fumes on their way to a nearby paving company. Like many of her neighbors in what last year ranked as the nation’s asthma capital, Buchanan has the respiratory disease, while her husband and sister suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Now, they worry their neighborhood could soon become home to the state’s largest commercial biomass power plant, one expected to burn nearly a ton of wood a minute and emit large amounts of fine particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and other harmful pollutants. “We have opposed this for a long time,” said Buchanan, 62, who lives a block from the proposed plant. “My message to the developer: Don’t do it. Don’t do it, especially during a pandemic.”

People with long-term exposure to high levels of air pollution are more likely to die of COVID-19 than those who live in less-polluted areas, according to a nationwide study this year by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Read more here.

Marty Nathan: ‘Clean energy doesn’t come out of smokestack’

Posted October 8, 2020

Marty Nathan, a Climate Action Now member and retired physician, recently wrote an article for the Valley Advocate about the history of the fight against the Palmer Renewable biomass plant in East Springfield and current fight against the language in Bill H. 4933 that would subsidize the creation of the Palmer biomass plant. She writes from her perspective as a retired physician, who directly witnessed the impact of pollution on the Springfield community, including herself. You can read her article here!

Activists Continue 10-Year Fight Over Biomass Project

Posted September 29, 2020

Environmental activists fear a climate bill in the Massachusetts legislature will breathe new life into a long-proposed biomass power plant in Springfield.

The House version of a climate bill currently in a conference committee on Beacon Hill would define commercial grade wood-burning biomass as non-carbon emitting sources of energy. Unless that language is taken out, a long-stalled biomass power plant in Springfield could get financing, according to Springfield City Councilor Jesse Lederman.

“There should not be any green energy subsidy given to these types of incinerators,” said Lederman. Read more or listen here

Letter to the Editor: Clause Must Be Removed From Biomass Legislation

Posted September 27, 2020

The Springfield Republican published an article about the petition to the state legislature organized by Councilor Jesse Lederman, “Petition opposes biomass legislation,” Sept. 24, page A10. That petition is in opposition to a clause in proposed climate legislation that would classify commercial grade wood-burning biomass as ‘non-carbon emitting sources of energy’. Councilor Lederman cited both the air pollution (no matter how good the process, there will be additional emissions) and he correctly adds that it is “scientifically inaccurate” to claim that a wood burning generator could be non-carbon emitting.

The article concluded by speaking only of the additional pollution and the counter claim that the plant will use state-of-the-art controls. I think the Republican newspaper does a disservice by implying that the argument is only about pollution. Read more here

Kill the ‘Zombie’: Springfield Demonstration Calls for End to Biomass Proposal After Decade-Long Battle

Posted September 3, 2020

SPRINGFIELD — More than 75 people gathered on the steps of City Hall on Thursday calling for an end to a long-proposed biomass project in East Springfield, saying it is a threat to public health and an environmental hazard.

Some of those speaking used he phrase “we can’t breathe” in expressing their strong opposition to the wood-to-energy plant proposed by Palmer Renewable Energy LLC at 1000 Page Blvd.

“This event is about the zombie project — this biomass plant that Palmer Renewable wants to build and keeps pulling political strings to get loopholes to go do it,” McArthur said. “We’ve been fighting it for 10 years and they’re now trying to come back.” Read more here

Environmental Activists Rally Against Proposed Biomass Incinerator in Springfield

Posted September 3, 2020

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A coalition of environmental advocates held a rally to show their opposition to a proposed biomass incinerator by Palmer Renewable Energy to be built in East Springfield. The plant would burn wood to create electricity on Page Boulevard. But it’s been stalled for years by legal battles and concerns about air quality and traffic.

“More than half of our residents have asthma or other respiratory issues,” said Tanisha Arena of Springfield Climate Justice Coalition. “A biomass plant here in our community would just make that worse.” Read more here

Enviro Show Interview With Melissa Hoffer

Posted September 3, 2020

Surely by now, if you are a long time listener of this show, you are aware of the critical role of forests in protecting the climate and public health, yes? We’ve been going on about it seemingly forever and now we are pleased to report that some in our state government may be listening. MA Energy and Environment Bureau Chief for the Office of the Attorney General, Melissa Hoffer joins us to talk about the critical role of forests in protecting climate and public health. Listen to the interview here

Springfield City Hall Opposes Biomass Incinerator Part of Climate Bill

Posted August 13, 2020

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Springfield City Council is set against the state subsidizing a Biomass incinerator as part of a state climate bill, the legislature’s considering.

Ten city councilors agree with fellow councilor Jesse Lederman the state should listen to the results of a hearing attended by hundreds at Springfield’s Duggan Middle School. There, they shot down a proposal for the state to subsidize a Biomass plant in Springfield.

“It will impact individuals who are already suffering from some of the highest rates of asthma in the commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Lederman said. “So we believe that type of operation should not be subsidized under renewable energy.” Read more here

‘Biomass Isn’t Clean Energy’: Springfield Activist Blast State Plan at Hearing

Posted June 6, 2019

Activists, elected officials, and concerned residents packed a June 5 Department of Energy Resources (DOER) hearing in Springfield on a state plan to open up state renewable energy subsidies to plants that burn biomass — mostly wood chips, wood pellets, and other wood products — which many said could result in poor health outcomes for the city of Springfield.

Currently, solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, and landfill methane gas are eligible for the subsidies.

At stake may be a return of a proposed Palmer Renewable Energy biomass plant planned for East Springfield. The $150 million 42-megawatt proposed plant has spent more than a decade stalled by legal battles, zoning concerns, and a Massachusetts Land Court case. Read more here