Just in time for National Bioenergy Day (October 22) , the biomass industry’s biggest BS marketing day, The Partnership for Policy Integrity (PFPI) has released a new report and online database identifying “The 100 Most Polluting Biomass Energy Facilities in Pennsylvania”. Industry calls biomass energy “a way to keep forests healthy” and touts burning wood as a “green” solution to energy and climate change. This false solution that is characterized by destruction of forest ecosystems as biomass plantations full of GE trees grow, and significant release of airborne toxins should be an embarrassment, not a marketing ploy. Taxpayers in Pennsylvania have subsidized this polluting industry with nearly $70 million dollars in public investments. This is an important report and adds to the publicly accessible data base of polluters.
Partnership for Policy Integrity 21 October, 2014
“Biomass continues to be subsidized and promoted in Pennsylvania as so-called ‘clean’ energy, while the reality is that biomass burners can emit as much soot, toxins, and other air pollutants into local communities as a similarly sized coal-fired burner,” said Mary Booth, director of PFPI and the author of the report. “There is no better time than ‘National Bioenergy Day’ (October 22nd) for people to learn the extent to which taxpayer dollars have been wasted on this highly polluting industry.”
The report includes information on the more than $69 million in federal and state subsidies and loans that was allocated in recent years for biomass-burning and wood pellet manufacturing facilities in Pennsylvania. The investigation found that of 38 companies that received support, 19 either no longer exist or have not yet received an operating permit. It is not clear what happened to the funding in these cases.
The PFPI report found that almost all biomass burners installed in recent years, including those at businesses, schools, and other institutions that have received grants and loans from the State, have permits that allow them to emit as much pollution as the older industrial biomass burners. Many are located in counties that currently do not meet air quality standards for particulate matter and ozone, and which have elevated rates of asthma in school-age children. Economic modeling highlighted in the report shows that each additional ton of particulate matter pollution emitted by these poorly controlled facilities can impose hundreds of thousands of dollars in health and environmental costs, with financial impacts greatest in counties that already have degraded air quality.