Letter from Springfield Neighborhood Councils & Civic Associations to Conference Committee

To:  Conference Committee on the Climate Bill (H.4933)

From:  Springfield Neighborhood Councils & Civic Associations

Re:  Elimination of biomass as a “non-carbon-emitting” energy source.

On behalf of the residents of Springfield we are writing to urge you in the strongest possible terms to remove a provision of the House climate bill (H.4933)  which would classify biomass energy as “non-carbon emitting,” which it absolutely is not.  In a bill that has many very positive features, this clause will do major environmental and health damage to Springfield residents, especially in the East Springfield neighborhood, adjoining a proposed biomass incinerator plant.

The House bill would incentivize Municipal Light Plants to buy Palmer Renewable Energy to comply with a proposed new greenhouse gas emissions standard for MLPs. The Palmer wood burning energy plant would emit approximately half a million tons of carbon dioxide a year – nearly a ton of carbon dioxide a minute — and more than 200 tons of harmful particulates and other air pollutants (please see and study carefully the attached document). Yet the language in the House bill would call this plant “non-carbon emitting.”

Not only is this not an acceptable climate solution, but it also endangers public health. Placing such a plant anywhere near residential areas is unconscionable, especially in a city which has been given failing grades for air quality by the American Lung Association and named the “Asthma Capital of the USA” by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. At present, the only major proposed biomass incinerator plant in Massachusetts is aimed at Springfield, but if this language is included in the final climate bill, it opens the door for other communities to face the same challenges. 

Please consider these issues very carefully and remove the faulty definition of “non-carbon emitting energy” from the final negotiated climate bill. Any MLP standard should only allow energy sources that qualify for MA’s Renewable Portfolio Standard or meet the definition of “non-emitting” under MA’s Clean Energy Standard. The proposed Palmer biomass plant fails on both grounds.

Thank you for your consideration.


Armoury Quadrangle Civic Association
Concerned Citizens For Springfield
East Forest Park Civic Association
East Springfield Neighborhood Council
Indian Orchard Citizens Council
Lower Liberty Heights Neighborhood Council
Mattoon Street Historic Preservation Council
McKnight Neighborhood Council
New North Citizens Council
Pine Point Community Council