Scientists Bash EPA's Take On Burning Wood For Power

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Scientists Bash EPA's Take On Burning Wood For Power

Postby Wilberforce » Thu Feb 12, 2015 10:18 am

Scientists Bash EPA's Take On Burning Wood For Power
Posted: 02/11/2015 7:25 pm EST Updated: 02/11/2015 7:59 pm EST

WASHINGTON -- A group of 78 scientists is criticizing an Environmental Protection Agency memo they say may dramatically undermine President Barack Obama's directive to cut planet-warming emissions.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, a group that includes climate scientists, engineers, and ecologists criticizes a November 2014 EPA policy memo that discounts emissions generated by burning biomass, including plants, trees, and other wood products known as sources of biogenic carbon dioxide. Critics said they fear the memo shows how biomass might be treated under the EPA's forthcoming Clean Power Plan, which will set the first regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The EPA is expected to finalize those regulations by summer.

The EPA memo states that using biomass as a source of power is "likely to have minimal or no net atmospheric contributions of biogenic [carbon dioxide] emissions" as long as the biomass is produced with "sustainable forest or agricultural practices." It also suggests that states will be able to increase the use of biomass in power plants in order to meet the limits set in the Clean Power Plan. The biogenic energy framework was the subject of a recent article in Politico magazine, which found that the interpretation "could promote the rapid destruction of America’s carbon-storing forests."

The group of scientists argues that not all types of biomass have the same impact on carbon emissions, and that using more biomass derived from trees will actually increase overall emissions. Treating all biomass the same could lead to cutting down older-growth trees for fuel, and older trees store more carbon. The group cites a statistic from the U.S. Energy Information Agency estimating if woody biomass is treated as carbon-free, an additional 4 percent of electricity in the U.S. could be generated from wood over the next 20 years. The scientists estimate that may boost the U.S. timber harvest by 70 percent.

This would likely lead to cutting even more trees, not only in the U.S., but around the world, the scientists argue. Even if new trees are grown to replace them, it would take many years for the trees to store as much carbon. Further, they say, burning biomass makes power plants less efficient and increases emissions.

"Including such exemptions for broad categories of biomass fuels in a final rule would not only encourage large-scale harvesting of wood to replace coal and other fossil fuels but also place no limits on the diversion of the world’s agricultural land to energy use, requiring conversions of forests and grasslands to meet food needs," the group's letter says.

"They're going to declare biomass carbon-neutral with the wave of a magic wand," William Moomaw, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at Tufts University, told The Huffington Post. "It's not carbon-neutral. It's a rather appalling failure to actually do the math."

Most states except Massachusetts consider biomass to be carbon-free, said Moomaw, as does the European Union.

William Schlesinger, dean emeritus at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University and one of the scientists involved in writing the letter, said the EPA memo was "disturbing" because it designates all sustainable biomass as having low carbon emissions, and does not adequately define "sustainable."

"The EPA made a promise several years ago that it would make its decisions based on science, and the best science," said Schlesinger. "Here, we've got a chance to sit down and look at what the science really says."

A group of Massachusetts environmental groups issued a statement this week expressing concern about biomass under the Clean Power Plan.

EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia said in an email to the Huffington Post that the Clean Power Plan isn't final, and that the framework on biogenic carbon dioxide was designed as a "policy-neutral framework for assessing biogenic CO2 emissions from stationary sources -- it was not developed as technical guidance."

"What we have said repeatedly is that the memo is a snapshot of the issues that have been raised in regards to the role of biomass in how states put together their plans to reduce their carbon pollution," said Purchia. "But we have made no definitive statements on what the role of biomass will be. We expect certain waste products and forest derived waste products might be ok, but that doesn’t mean all forest products ... To reiterate, we don’t assume cutting down forests to power power plants is carbon neutral. This would really be a case by case basis that states would need to show detailed analysis that we’d review. We’d issue additional guidance if needed."

source
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/1 ... n&ir=Green
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Re: Scientists Bash EPA's Take On Burning Wood For Power

Postby Wilberforce » Fri Feb 13, 2015 4:36 pm

78 Scientists Warn US EPA About Impacts from Wood Burning

Posted on February 12, 2015 by GJEP staff

A recent letter signed by 78 scientists, warns the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about the environmental impacts of burning trees for electricity, including rapid acceleration of deforestation globally, and increases in CO2 emissions. While not specifically mentioning genetically engineered trees, the letter can also be seen as a strong warning against the development of GE trees for biomass production.

The letter comes at a crucial time. From the recent underhanded decision by the US Department of Agriculture not to regulate a GE loblolly pine tree being developed for biomass; to the ongoing process by the Department of Energy to assess the impacts of engineering of trees and other “high energy” crops for bioenergy, a scientific evaluation of the dangers of burning trees for electricity is exceptionally valuable right now.

The letter, dated 9 February 2015 and signed by 78 highly respected scientists, “raises strong concerns” about an EPA memo that “would credit use of woody biomass for energy with reducing emissions, when it actually increases them.”

The letter goes on to explain the global implications of this decision:

“Because EPA can expect its accounting rule to be applied globally, it is likely to lead to the additional harvest or conversion to agriculture of large areas of the world’s forests.”

It is also clear in its warnings that use of biomass can actually increase emissions over the use of fossil fuels:

“Burning biomass instead of fossil fuels does not reduce the carbon emitted by power plants. In fact, as EPA itself acknowledges, burning biomass degrades facility efficiency and increases day-to-day emissions over emissions when fossil fuels are burned alone.”

It goes on to expose the dire consequences that burning trees for electricity would have on the world’s forests.

“…treating woody biomass as carbon free with modest carbon restrictions would result in an additional 4% of present US electricity from wood by 2035. That would require an increase of wood equivalent to 70% of the US timber harvest, which for perspective would be far greater than if we were to abolish all paper and cardboard recycling in the US. The International Energy Agency estimates that treating bioenergy as carbon free globally… would lead to reliance on woody biomass for 6% of electricity by 2035, and that would require more than a doubling of global commercial timber harvest.

Adding that this would be “likely to lead to increased US emissions of CO2.”

Such policies, they argue “would reward forest managers for the carbon in their trees but only if they cut those trees down.”

The conclude the letter by appealing to the US EPA to reconsider their approach and “instead employ a scientifically valid system for counting the global warming effects of biomass.”

For the full letter, click here

You can also help us stop GE trees by clicking here

source
http://globaljusticeecology.org/78-scie ... d-burning/

http://www.caryinstitute.org/sites/defa ... iomass.pdf

http://globaljusticeecology.org/letter- ... ectricity/

http://globaljusticeecology.org/take-ac ... -ge-trees/
• The Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ambient smoke!

• If you smell even a subtle odor of smoke, you are being exposed to poisonous and carcinogenic chemical compounds!

• Even a brief exposure to smoke raises blood pressure, (no matter what your state of health) and can cause blood clotting, stroke, or heart attack in vulnerable people. Even children experience elevated blood pressure when exposed to smoke!

• Since smoke drastically weakens the lungs' immune system, avoiding smoke is one of the best ways to prevent colds, flu, bronchitis, or risk of an even more serious respiratory illness, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis! Does your child have the flu? Chances are they have been exposed to ambient smoke!
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