[NEWS] White Paper Refutes Letter to Congress Claims on Biomass Energy

– by Katie Fletcher, May 12, 2016, Biomass Magazine

9woodFiberEarlier this month, FutureMetrics LLC published a white paper authored by William Strauss that discusses why an editorial the Washington Post published at the end of April and the letter to U.S. Congress the article was based on make inaccurate claims about biomass for energy.

The Washington Post’s editorial entitled “Dear Congress: Burning wood is not the future of energy” was based on a recent written “warning” to congress by 65 research scientists and practitioners who study energy, soils, forested and wetland ecosystems and climate change. As a recognized global consultant in the wood pellet sector, Strauss with FutureMetrics stated “we strongly disagree with the experts’ characterization in their letter to Congress that biomass is never carbon neutral.”

Besides carbon neutrality Strauss highlights a number of inaccuracies he identified in the literature to Congress and written by the Washington Post. Strauss wrote that the foundation for carbon neutrality is sustainability. “Using wood for energy has to be part of a system that includes independent auditing that assures that the stock of carbon held in the forests is not depleted.” Strauss affirmed that concerns about deforestation are well-intentioned, but deforestation is not consistent with the “rigorous requirements for sustainability and the preservation of carbon sinks that are the foundation of the policies that support the substitution of coal by wood pellets in power plants.”

Strauss clarified that the testimony to Congress is right in that there is not enough sustainable wood supply in North America to replace all the coal used for power generation, but “as a transition fuel, industrial wood pellets can play an important role as one of many options for taking us from a heavily geologically carbonized energy sector to a future in which combustion of fuels made from geologic carbon is no lower allowed.”

READ MORE at Biomass Magazine

2 comments

  • Rolf Cachat-Schilling

    Total doublespeak. Strauss admits that wood for biomass is not sustainable, yet claims it’s a good idea as a ‘transition’ fuel from coal. What nonsense. Strauss is saying wood pellets are no sustainable, but an easy choice to get away from coal. That is not an argument for anything but convenience. Strauss further admits that wood burning biomass is a disaster unless “rigorous requirements for sustainability and the preservation of carbon sinks that are the foundation of the policies that support the substitution of coal by wood pellets in power plants.” State and private logging interests have already fallen far short of that mark. Harvard University has published research that found the logical and mathematical bases for “sustainable forest harvest” are deeply flawed, which comes on the heels of a report by NYT to the same effect. Strauss does not address the fact that the EPA estimates over 50% of airborne polycylic organic poisons derive from burning wood. Strauss is couching admissions of ecological failure by the forest-clearing interests in regard to biomass models that are workable within a matrix of opaque and quasi-technical language that is based on pseudoscience. In other words, Strauss is hiding admissions of failure within a bed of doublespeak.

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  • Rolf Cachat-Schilling

    Strauss is also committing lies by omission. Carbon isn’t the only thing spewed by the thousands of tons in to our air by biomass burning. Logging forests exposes the forest soil to sun, wind and drying, which annihilated the soil microbial community. A mature forest has as much life in the soil as it does above the soil. These microbes trap as much greenhouse gas as the trees do, or more, and removal of the trees means their death, and the release of powerful greenhouse and acid-forming gases. Methane is released in huge quantities by exposed forest soils, especially in the wet hemlock forests and muskegs. Methane traps many times more sun energy as heat than carbon dioxide. Nitrogen and sulfur species are also released by dying microbes, which turn into acid rain. Burning biomass releases aldehydes and benzene – powerful liver carcinogens, as well as a host of toxic polycylic aromatics. The EPA says burning wood contributes more than 50% of atmospheric poisons in the USA.

    Worse yet, the “carbon neutral” myth applied to biomass burning is a hoax. Several groups have examined the models and math used for this hoax and have sharply criticized the proposition as deeply flawed. Many factors are entirely ignored in industry-funded “research” on biomass burning. For instance, release of gases by soil microbes post-logging is entirely ignored. Gas consumption by logging machinery and trucking materials are ignored. Erosion of soils by logging is ignored. The models used to calculate carbon-fixing by regrowing forests are deeply flawed, using flawed math models to calculate leaf mass and total sequestration. Models used to predict carbon-fixing rates by forests fail to take into account the loss of forests by logging to obtain the materials. Industry-funded “research” doesn’t take the net effect of deforestation into account, but imagines forests that will no longer exist once they are cut to supply the trees for the current biomass plans.

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