NO to the biomass power plant in Springfield

Urgent Action Alert

Biomass Day of Action – Virtual Event and Phone Banking December 1st 1-3 PM – Register here!

The 2050 Climate Roadmap Bill before the MA legislature includes language (H. 4933) 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, Neighbor to Neighbor, 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 language in H.4933 calling biomass “non-carbon emitting energy” is not removed, it will give the green light for Palmer to receive the financing it needs. If the Palmer biomass power plant 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).

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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

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Call or email your state Representative & your state Senator and ask them to contact the members of the conference committee, focusing on Conference Committee Chairperson Senator Barret. Click here for a list of local Springfield area legislators (if you’re not in the area, find your legislators here) and the Conference Committee members.

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State your opposition to the language in the Climate Bill that calls biomass fuel ‘non-carbon emitting’, and ask your legislators to urge the Conference Committee to remove all such language in the final version of the Climate Bill!

For background information, a list of local legislators, and scripts to use when you call or email, click here

Fill out this form if you want to make commitments for the campaign to prevent the classification of biomass as a form of renewable energy

Please share 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.

Share this letter from 60 MA Organizations to the Conference Committee. These groups stand in solidarity with the Springfield community and urge the Massachusetts Legislature to reject language in the House’s proposed climate legislation that would pave the way for the construction of a biomass plant in Springfield. The signatories include a diverse array of organizations that work on public health, environmental justice, clean and affordable energy, climate change, and environmental protection in Massachusetts.

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