Archive Community Voices on Biomass 2021

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

The Springfield community, Climate Action Now, the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition, and other allies have been speaking out in resistance to policies and bills that would make the proposed Palmer Renewables Biomass Plant in East Springfield financially viable. Right now, that includes:

  • Language in the 2050 Climate Roadmap Bill (H. 4933, Section 15) that would classify biomass electricity plants as “non-carbon emitting” energy sources.
  • The Department of Energy Resources’ proposed changes to the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) that would make biomass electricity plants once again eligible for ratepayer clean energy subsidies.

Letter From MA Organizations to Chairmen Golden and Barrett Regarding Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Regulations

December 23, 2020

The undersigned groups write to urge Chairman Michael Barrett and Chairman Tom Golden to hold a hearing and use the persuasive and advisory power at their disposal to bring the Department of Energy Resources (“DOER”) to reconsider its approach to the amendments to 225 CMR 14.00 and 225 CMR 15.00 submitted to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy, docketed as H.5169 (“Regulatory Amendments”).

Read the letter here.

Biomass plant will create a ‘sacrifice zone’ in Springfield

By Marty Nathan – December 23, 2020

I was reading a piece describing the cancer and other severe chronic diseases suffered by low-income people living in Louisiana’s petrochemical refinery district known as Cancer Alley. The writer said, “You can’t have a polluting industry without a sacrifice zone.”  

Words to remember, that immediately flashed through my mind when listening to an explanation of the Baker Administration’s new rules classifying “clean” energy sources under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard program (RPS). Technologies that qualify get lucrative renewable energy subsidies from ratepayers.

Read the rest of the article here.

Attorney General calls for public process for proposed RPS regulations

December 23, 2020

Attorney General calls for public process for proposed RPS regulations citing
” significant public concern & scientific evidence regarding the climate & public health of biomass generation.” 

In comments to the Telecommunications, Utilities & Energy Joint Committee as they consider the Department of Energy Resources’ draft regulations (which include drastic rollbacks in hard fought-for rules for biomass power plants) the AG’s office pointed out that: 

  • The science shows that biomass energy generation only exacerbates climate and public health harms
  • The Commonwealth has both a legal and a moral obligation to protect our most vulnerable communities from harmful air pollution.
  • Incentivizing additional forest biomass energy production would be a step backward, not forward, in those critical efforts

Read the entire statement from the Attorney General here 

Springfield City Council passes resolution opposing millions in state subsidies for biomass incineration

By Ariana Tourangeau – December 22, 2020

SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield City Council unanimously passed a resolution Monday night in opposition to state renewable energy subsidies for wood-burning biomass incinerators in Massachusetts.

According to Springfield City Councilor Jesse Lederman, the vote comes in the wake of final draft regulations being proposed by the state Department of Energy Resources that would weaken existing guidelines for taxpayer and ratepayer-funded subsidies in what is known as the Renewable Portfolio Standard.

This would potentially allow millions in state funds to flow to proposed biomass waste incinerating power plants for the first time since 2012. Lederman said that continued pending state legislation would incentivize power from such facilities under the premise that they represent renewable energy production. Read more here.

Show Us The Science Letter- From Over 100 MA Organizations to the Conference Committee

December 21, 2020

The Springfield Climate Justice Coalition (SCJC)  launched a statewide letter campaign demanding that the Massachusetts House produce the science to back their claim that biomass qualifies as ‘clean energy’, as designated in the draft House Climate Roadmap Bill 4933. The integrity of the final 2050 Climate Roadmap Bill will depend on either producing the science or removing the language of biomass as “non-carbon emitting”.

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

By Marty Nathan – October 6, 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. You can read her article here!

Activists Continue 10-Year Fight Over Biomass Project

By Paul Tuthill – September 29, 2020

Paul Tuthill recently did a segment on WAMC that catalogues the history of the fight against the proposed biomass plant and highlights the current saga of this 10 year long fight.

Springfield City Council Member Jesse Lederman’s Petition

The petition calls on Senator Michael Barrett and Representative Tom Golden in their capacity as Chairs of the Conference Committee responsible for crafting the final language of this important legislation to remove commercial wood burning biomass incinerators from the definition of non-emitting energy sources and bring this definition in line with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Standard and the Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard.

Springfield Climate Justice Coalition letter to Members of Springfield’s House and Senate Delegation

Letter from the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition to the Presidents of the Springfield Neighborhood Councils, the Civic Associations, and the Citizen Councils

Letter from Springfield Neighborhood Councils & Civic Associations to Conference Committee

Letter from 60 MA Organizations to Conference Committee

Sixty groups from around the state signed on to this letter urging the Massachusetts Legislature to reject language in the House’s proposed climate legislation that would pave the way for its construction.

In a letter to the conference committee negotiating the climate legislation, the groups wrote:
“We stand in solidarity with Springfield residents and environmental justice groups who have been fighting the proposed Palmer biomass plant for more than a decade. Springfield already has more than its fair share of polluting facilities and should not become a “sacrifice zone” to produce dirty power that will be sold to municipalities elsewhere in the state as part of a new MLP greenhouse gas standard.”

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. You can download the full letter with all signatories here.