NO to the biomass power plant in Springfield

Urgent Action Alert

The 2050 Climate Roadmap Bill before the MA legislature includes language (H. 4933, Section 15) that lists biomass electricity plants as “non-carbon emitting” sources of energy.  This bill, in its current form, would pave the way for Palmer Renewable to build a biomass plant in East Springfield, which would further pollute the air in an economically distressed Environmental Justice community already called the “asthma capital of the US”. Arise for Social Justice, the Springfield community, and public health and climate activists across the state have been fighting to stop the biomass plant for over 12 years.

Photo credit to Rene Theberge; taken before the Covid-19 pandemic

Here’s why we are fighting:

Photo credit to Rene Theberge. Taken before the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Dangerous health impacts: Burning biomass emits pollutants and particulates which could increase the risk of complications and death from COVID-19 for people already at high risk. Living near the proposed polluting incinerator will bring higher risks for asthma, heart disease, cancer, and other health conditions. If the Palmer biomass power plant becomes eligible for renewable energy subsidies or other incentives and the incinerator is built, Springfield will become a sacrifice zone to produce power for wealthier communities elsewhere in the state.
  • Worsening the climate crisis: The Partnership for Policy Integrity recently wrote that “Biomass power plants are major sources of CO2 emissions. Smokestack CO2 emissions from a wood-burning power plant are about 150% those of a new coal plant, for the same amount of electricity generated, and about 350% those of a new combined cycle natural gas plant” (source). “The Palmer plant would worsen an already dire situation by emitting more than 200 tons per year of fine particulates, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, heavy metals, carcinogens, and other harmful air pollutants out its smokestack, plus additional air pollution from truckloads of wood delivered to the facility and dust from wood fuel and ash stored on site. The plant is permitted to operate 24/7 and burn nearly a ton of wood per hour” (source).

A conference committee of the MA legislature is meeting to decide the fate of this Bill. They are planning on finalizing their decision very soon. We need to act now!

Here’s what you can do

Reach out to your legislators; ask them to reach out to their peers on the conference committee -(Senators Michael Barrett, Cynthia Creem, and Patrick O’Connor and Representatives Tom Golden, Patricia Haddad, and Brad Jones) – with the following request:  Amend the House’s proposed new greenhouse gas emissions standard for Municipal Light Plants (Section 15 of the House climate bill, H. 4933) to include only resources that are qualified under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard or the new Clean Energy Standard. 

For a list of Western Mass legislators and their contact info go here

If you need to find out the names and contact information of your legislators go here.

Please share with them this powerful letter from the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition about how this proposal will harm Springfield residents who are already suffering disproportionately from air pollution. 

Sign this petition, created by Springfield City Council member Jesse Lederman.

Photo credit to Rene Theberge. Taken before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Photo credit to Rene Theberge. Taken before the Covid-19 pandemic.