DEBUNKING THE BIOMASS MYTH
Forest biomass — fuel derived from the burning or heating of growing things, like trees and other plants — has long enjoyed a reputation as a clean, green and renewable alternative to fossil fuels. That green reputation, however, is tarnishing … and rightly so. In fact, it’s easy as “P-I-E” to understand why incinerating forests to generate electricity is a bad idea.
Biomass power is …
- Polluting, emitting greenhouse gases, worsening the climate crisis, and emitting air pollution that harms vulnerable communities;
- Ineffective for protecting communities and forests during wildfires;
- Expensive and dependent on subsidies that take resources away from truly clean energy alternatives.
Instead of promoting biomass energy that harms our climate, communities and forests, states should …
- Stop mandating, subsidizing, or otherwise incentivizing biomass power production, and instead direct investments toward truly clean energy production like solar and wind;
- Fully account for the smokestack emissions from biomass power plants and stop incorrectly treating biomass power as “carbon neutral”;
- Create climate-smart wildfire and forest policy that invests in proven home and community-focused approaches to wildfire safety rather than forest-cutting, while increasing forest protections that keep carbon stored in forest ecosystems as an essential climate solution.
The Center is pushing back against the biomass juggernaut, in coalition with other advocates. In federal court, at the California State Legislature and in agency rulemakings, we tackle the longstanding myth that biomass is “carbon neutral.” This industry argument claims that CO2 emissions from burning biomass don’t actually affect the atmosphere because the plants may grow back or because they would have died and decayed anyway. A plethora of recent scientific articles and studies have demolished this myth, demonstrating that even when biomass is burned as a substitute for fossil fuels, the resulting CO2 emissions may actually be worse for decades or even centuries to come.
Our message is clear: Government and industry must account honestly for the carbon emissions and climate impacts of biomass facilities — not perpetuate the baseless falsehood that biomass helps in the fight against climate change. In fact could be a significant factor, in these critically important next few years, in pushing us past the point of no return.
Download our Forest Biomass Briefing Book to learn more and spread the word.