Category Archives: Exclusive
– by Josh Schlossberg, Earth Island Journal
Kevin Bundy has tramped through his share of forests in California’s Sierra Nevada. Where he sees a diverse ecosystem of ponderosa pine, incense cedar, and white fir, prime wildlife habitats, and one of the world’s best buffers against climate change, many public and private land managers see something different. Of course, they too observe living forests, but they also see tinder for future wildfires, as well as an opportunity to procure home-grown, renewable biomass energy.
A senior attorney with the conservation group Center for Biological Diversity, Bundy works at the national level to ensure strict accounting of carbon emissions from the burning of biomass, and on the local level to limit the type of fuels burned by biomass facilities. He’s convinced that the nation needs to “get away from fossil fuels and shift to 100 percent renewable energy as quickly as possible,” given the threat of climate change. But while he acknowledges biomass might be renewable “in some sense,” he sees it as “something of a false solution to our climate and energy challenges” compared to other renewable sources like solar and wind.
– by Josh Schlossberg, The Biomass Monitor
A white paper by a bioenergy industry consulting firm critiques a recent letter sent to Congress by 65 U.S. scientists opposing a carbon neutral “biomass” amendment to an energy policy bill, saying the letter includes “flawed logic,” “factual errors,” and “hyperbolic language.”
William Strauss, Ph.D., president and founder of Maine-based FutureMetrics, a global consultant in the wood pellet industry, agrees that not all biomass energy is automatically carbon neutral, as the amendment in the Energy Policy Modernization Act (approved by the House and Senate), would determine.
However, Strauss and a number of other bioenergy supporters “strongly disagree with the experts’ characterization in their letter to Congress that biomass is never carbon neutral.”
Strauss writes that for biomass energy to be carbon neutral “the forest growth rate has to be greater than or equal to the harvest rate.” In other words, so long as forests continue to adequately grow and sequester carbon, logging for bioenergy adds no additional carbon into the atmosphere.
Letter co-author William R. Moomaw, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus and Co-Director of the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University, said that Strauss’ definition of carbon neutral biomass is “far too simplistic.”
Moomaw agrees that other trees will take in the CO2 released by logging a tree for bioenergy, however he makes the point that these trees are also absorbing carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels.
“The proper way to do carbon accounting,” Moomaw said, “is to add up all of the emissions, and then all of the removals into sinks.”