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For Immediate Release, January 12, 2011

Contact: Kevin Bundy, (415) 436-9682 x 313

EPA Capitulates to Timber, Biomass Industries on Global Warming Pollution

Decision to Delay Regulation of Wood-burning Power Plants Will Result in More Greenhouse Gas Pollution

WASHINGTON— The Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it plans a three-year delay in regulating wood-fired power plants and other “biomass” incinerators under Clean Air Act provisions aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. The agency is granting the three-year exemption despite extensive scientific information showing that the large-scale burning of trees and other wood products can increase global warming pollution and worsen climate change.

“The EPA has caved in to months of political pressure from the timber and biomass industries and their allies in Congress. Sadly, the result will be an increase in greenhouse pollution, not a decrease,” said Center for Biological Diversity Senior Attorney Kevin Bundy. “There is no scientific or legal justification for treating carbon pollution from burning trees differently from other kinds of carbon pollution. Carbon dioxide is carbon dioxide — the climate can’t tell the difference.”

The announcement comes partly in response to pressure from members of Congress, and partly in response to a timber industry request for reconsideration of the EPA’s initial decision to treat so-called “biogenic” greenhouse gas emissions the same as other emissions for purposes of the Clean Air Act’s permit programs. Under the approach announced today, permit requirements that would have taken effect July 1 will be deferred for three years. According to the EPA, the exemption will apply not only to facilities burning wood and agricultural products for energy, but also to wastewater-treatment facilities, livestock operations, landfills and ethanol factories.

The EPA claims that the delay will give it time to consider the relevant scientific data. But the agency also announced today that it intends to allow biomass burning as a form of greenhouse gas emissions-control technology in fossil-fueled facilities.

“The EPA’s claim that it needs more time to weigh the science is disingenuous — they’ve had plenty of time, and the science is clear,” Bundy continued. “The EPA’s Orwellian decision to treat biomass pollution as a form of pollution control shows that the agency has already made up its mind to ignore the science.”

The Center petitioned the EPA in 2010 to correct its erroneous assumption that CO2 from large-scale biomass power plants is “carbon neutral.”

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