For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Kevin Bundy, (415) 436-9682 x 313

EPA Capitulates to Timber, Biomass Industries on Global Warming Pollution

Decision to Delay Regulation of Wood-burning Power Plants Will Result in More Greenhouse Gas Pollution


The Environmental Protection Agency today
announced that it plans a three-year delay in regulating wood-fired power plants
and other “biomass” incinerators under Clean Air Act provisions aimed at
reducing greenhouse gases. The agency is granting the three-year exemption
despite extensive scientific information showing that the large-scale burning of
trees and other wood products can increase global warming pollution and worsen
climate change.

“The EPA has caved in to months of political pressure
from the timber and biomass industries and their allies in Congress. Sadly, the
result will be an increase in greenhouse pollution, not a decrease,” said Center
Senior Attorney Kevin Bundy. “There is no scientific or legal justification for
treating carbon pollution from burning trees differently from other kinds of
carbon pollution. Carbon dioxide is carbon dioxide — the climate can’t tell the


The announcement comes partly in response to pressure
from members of Congress, and partly in response to a timber industry request
for reconsideration of the EPA’s initial decision to treat so-called “biogenic”
greenhouse gas emissions the same as other emissions for purposes of the Clean
Air Act’s permit programs. Under the approach announced today, permit
requirements that would have taken effect July 1 will be deferred for three
years. According to the EPA, the exemption will apply not only to facilities
burning wood and agricultural products for energy, but also to
wastewater-treatment facilities, livestock operations, landfills and ethanol


The EPA claims that the delay will give it time to
consider the relevant scientific data. But the agency also announced today that
it intends to allow biomass burning as a form of greenhouse gas
emissions-control technology in fossil-fueled facilities.


“The EPA’s claim that it needs more time to weigh the
science is disingenuous — they’ve had plenty of time, and the science is clear,”
Bundy continued. “The EPA’s Orwellian suggestion that biomass pollution is a
form of pollution control makes it look like the agency has already made up its
mind to ignore the science.”


The Center petitioned the EPA in 2010 to correct its
erroneous assumption that CO2 from large-scale biomass power plants
is “carbon neutral.”


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