WASHINGTON (CN) – While the Environmental Protection Agency decides whether carbon dioxide released from burning biomass should be treated the same as that released by burning fossil fuels, the agency proposes to defer, for three years, Clean Air Act permitting requirements for carbon dioxide emissions from bioenergy and other biogenic sources.
The agency is reconsidering its 2010 decision to treat the emissions the same, which was a reversal of previous agency policy that the carbon released from biomass fuel did not contribute to increased carbon concentrations in the air because it was reabsorbed by the new plantings that replaced the harvested biomass.
If the EPA regulates the emissions from burning biomass the same as the emissions from burning fossil fuels, biomass facilities would no longer receive preferential permitting, and the so called green-tags or clean energy credits associated with biogenic generation could be lost.
The National Alliance of Forest Owners petitioned the agency last summer to reconsider its decision, arguing that the agency had ignored the long standing scientific consensus that carbon dioxide emitted from burning biomass does not increase carbon dioxide concentrations in the air if the sources, such as trees, grasses and grains, are replanted to act as carbon sinks.
The three year moratorium on counting carbon dioxide emissions is intended to encourage the biomass power industry to continue to develop new biomass energy resources, which most environmental groups still consider greener than their fossil fuel burning alternatives.