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The Baker Administration has pushed forward dirty biomass subsidies! Now the legislature must act! Click the button to tell your state legislators: No Toxic Biomass!

 

Great news… progress on biomass!

 

February 1st, 2022
 

Thanks to all your support, the Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy (TUE) Committee voted favorably last week in support of our biomass bill, S. 2197. The bill will now proceed to the Senate Ways and Means Committee for consideration. The companion House bill, H.3333, received an extension, meaning that, while it has not yet advanced, legislators can still sign on in support.

S.2197 and H.3333 will remove incentives and subsidies for polluting biomass energy from our state’s clean energy programs. The biomass industry is working hard behind the scenes to kill the bill.  But while they may have deep pockets, they don’t have what we have: people power! 

 

We need to act because Governor Baker is trying to roll back Massachusetts’ renewable energy standards to allow large, polluting wood-burning power plants like Palmer to collect millions of dollars per year in renewable energy subsidies funded by Massachusetts ratepayers.

 

Let's keep up the momentum to stop biomass subsidies.

SCJC Urges MA Legislature to Ban Biomass Subsidies

July 7, 2022 

The Springfield Climate Justice Coalition is calling on the Massachusetts Legislature to block new rules advanced by the Baker Administration that would promote more wood-burning biomass energy throughout the Northeast. The controversial regulations are likely to be finalized this fall, just months before Governor Baker leaves office.
 

SCJC sent a letter today to House and Senate members who are racing to negotiate a climate and energy bill before the legislative session ends on July 30th.  The Senate proposal includes key provisions advanced by Springfield legislators Senator Eric Lesser, Senator Adam Gomez, and Representative Orlando Ramos and supported by the entire Springfield legislative delegation, that would end Massachusetts’ renewable energy subsidies for woody biomass energy.


“We can’t afford to waste more time or money on false climate solutions like burning trees for energy,” SCJC wrote in a letter to the conference committee. “We are in a climate emergency. Springfield needs support from our state government in order to conduct a swift and just transition to truly clean, green, and renewable energy, striving towards a future of energy democracy.”  


SCJC is urging the conference committee to remove subsidies for burning woody biomass from all of Massachusetts’ ratepayer-funded renewable energy programs: the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard, and the new Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standard for municipal light plants.

 

The No Toxic Biomass campaign is hosting a statewide call-in day today urging the conference committee to make a “clean sweep” and end all renewable energy subsidies for burning wood.


Read more about this critical legislation here. Check out instructions here for calling key legislators.

 

Senate Bill Would Ban New Biomass Subsidies

April 8, 2022 

Breaking news: The Massachusetts Senate has ​advanced a sweeping new climate policy bill that would stop Governor Baker's biomass subsidies in their tracks and protect Massachusetts ratepayers. 

S2819, An act driving climate policy forward, includes priority provisions supported by the No Toxic Biomass campaign.

The legislation would end subsidies for woody biomass in MA’s two main renewable energy programs, the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard and the Alternate Energy Portfolio Standard (i.e. wood-burning electricity and wood-burning heat).  The bill applies to existing biomass facilities as well as new ones, with an exception for any units that are currently enrolled in these programs.

The Senate is expected to debate this bill during the week of April 11th. The bill is expected to pass, but significant advocacy will be needed to preserve the biomass provisions of this legislation in the Senate and to ensure the House/Senate conference committee adopts these provisions.

 

Don't wait. Contact your legislators to support this bill and ensure these provisions stay in the final bill. 

Read more about this critical legislation here. 

Upcoming Hearing on Biomass Regulations!

March 27, 2022 (hearing on March 29)

It’s deja vu all over again in Massachusetts. The Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has announced yet another public comment period on its plans to roll back Massachusetts’ science-based standards for woody biomass energy. The new rules would allow dozens of polluting biomass power plants across New England to qualify for ratepayer subsidies through the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS).

If all this sounds eerily familiar to you, you’re right. These are largely the same rule changes that DOER announced last April, that were debated before the Legislature last July, and which were expected to be finalized last November. But along the way, DOER took shortcuts with the public review process, so Secretary of State Bill Galvin has required DOER to do it all over again. No problem – we’re all getting good at this!

 

Hundreds of organizations and thousands of individual citizens have spoken out against these rule changes repeatedly since they were first proposed in 2019.  Absolutely nobody wants them – nobody except the biomass industry and their cronies in the Baker Administration, that is.


Take Action: Sign up to speak at the hearing on March 29th! Read more about the proposal here.

 

November 11th, 2021

UPDATE (3/7/2022): PFPI has learned that DOER's regulations were improperly noticed, and the DOER must again hold hearings on the proposal. The DOER has scheduled a hearing for March 23, 2022. Register for the virtual hearing here.

We’ve got bad news, and an urgent call for action.  

 

Despite vigilant opposition by community organizations, environmental advocates, and legislators, Governor Baker has pushed forward changes to the state clean energy policies - the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) - that will subsidize biomass.

 

With these new regulations, Massachusetts ratepayers will fund incentives for old, polluting biomass plants, primarily facilities in Maine and New Hampshire, under the guise that they are producing clean energy.

 

Here’s the good news: legislation that has been heard by state’s Telecommunications, Utility and Energy committee (An act to prevent biomass energy to protect the air we breathe – H.3333/S.2197) would strip biomass from the RPS and prevent MA ratepayer dollars from subsidizing inefficient, out of state biomass plants. This legislation must be given a favorable report by the legislature and brought to a floor vote as soon as possible.

 

Be a climate champion: urge your legislators to stop biomass pollution! If you’ve already emailed your state representative and senator, follow up with a phone call. You can also find a list of key legislative leaders to contact here.

Baker, DOER advance bad biomass regulation: Contact Your Legislators!
 

September 9th, 2021

Following its July oversight hearing, the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy (TUE) Committee will be reviewing biomass legislation, including one of our supported bills, on September 13th, 2021 at 1:30 PM. Show up or submit testimony for S.2197/H.3333, which removes woody biomass burning altogether from Massachusetts' renewable energy programs

 

Sign up to testify by filling out this form by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, September 10th. Once registered, you will receive further instruction on how to participate virtually. 

 

Written testimony can be submitted via email to Magda Garncarz at magdalena.garncarz@mahouse.gov and Dina Nathanson at dina.nathanson@masenate.gov. The deadline to submit written testimony is Monday, September 13, 2021 by 5:00 p.m. When submitting written testimony, please use the following document title format:  

 

Bill# - Your Organization’s Name – Support 

Example: S2197/H333 – No Toxic Biomass – Support 

State legislators are clearly paying attention to this issue, thanks largely to the thousands of citizens from Springfield and across the state voicing their concerns to them. Tell the legislature:

  • These bills are necessary to protect public health

  • Subsidizing woody biomass goes against Massachusetts’ legally binding climate commitments

  • Ratepayer dollars shouldn’t fund pollution here or elsewhere

Public Hearing on Biomass Bills on September 13th

 
Public Hearing on Proposed RPS Regulation Changes Announced for July 30th

 

July 28th, 2021

Great news!  

 

The Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy (TUE) Committee will be conducting a virtual public hearing on the Baker administration’s proposed biomass rule changes this Friday, July 30th at 10 AM.

 

We won this public hearing because of your support and advocacy. Our collective efforts, including the 80+ groups that stepped up on short notice to sign our letter asking the TUE Committee to hold this hearing, were key to our success. 

 

As noted in the hearing announcement, oral testimony is by invitation only. The advocacy community has been given a limited number of slots, and PFPI and members of the No Toxic Biomass campaign have provided names to the TUE committee. However, anyone can attend (virtually) and submit written testimony!

 

We are urging the TUE Committee to reject DOER’s amendments that would expand renewable energy incentives for wood-burning biomass power plants and roll back critical public health and environmental protections.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

 

Attend the TUE hearing this Friday:  Strong (virtual) turnout at the hearing will demonstrate to the legislature that we are watching closely. The live stream of the public hearing may be viewed under the Hearings & Events section of the Massachusetts legislature's website

 

Submit Written Comments: Even a short personal note goes a long way with legislators!  Written testimony can be sent to magdalena.garncarz@mahouse.gov and Samuel.Anderson@masenate.gov by Monday, August 2nd at 5 pm. Ask the TUE Committee to reject DOER’s proposed rule changes that expand renewable energy incentives for wood burning power plants and to recommend expanding protections for environmental justice communities. For more talking points see below.

Contact your State Senator and Representative: Ask them to support and co-sponsor two bills endorsed by the No Toxic Biomass campaign:

  • S.2186/H.3362 prohibits polluting power plants from receiving RPS funds if they are located in, or within 5 miles of an environmental justice community

  • S.2197/H.3333 removes woody biomass burning altogether from Massachusetts' renewable energy programs

 

For more information about these bills and to find out who your state legislators are, click here.

Social Media: Please use the  #BakerNoBiomass hashtag for any social media posts and link to the NoToxicBiomass.org campaign website.

 

TALKING POINTS:

  • DOER is proposing sweeping changes that will allow inefficient and polluting wood-burning biomass power plants to once again qualify for renewable energy incentives in Massachusetts.
     

  • The Baker administration’s changes roll back important environmental and public health protections adopted in 2012 that make Massachusetts’ RPS standards the strongest in the nation.
     

  • Biomass power plants are not “clean energy” - they emit large quantities of harmful air pollution and are damaging to our climate and our forests.
     

  • Wood-burning power plants emit more carbon dioxide pollution out their stacks than coal or natural gas plants per megawatt of energy produced.
     

  • The new provision prohibiting biomass power plants from qualifying for the RPS  if they are located in or within 5 miles of an environmental justice community is a positive step and should be expanded to include all combustion technologies that are covered in the RPS.
     

  • These regulations will allow existing inefficient biomass power plants in Maine, New Hampshire and elsewhere to collect millions of dollars in renewable energy subsidies paid for by Massachusetts residents through their electric bills.
     

  • Massachusetts ratepayers want to support clean renewable energy, not dirty biomass plants!

Statement by the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition on DOER’s Proposed RPS Rule Changes 

April 16, 2021

We are gratified that the Baker Administration is finally listening and responding to the widespread public opposition to putting a polluting wood-burning power plant in an environmental justice community that has been named the “asthma capital of the country.”

If adopted, these rule changes will ensure that the Palmer Renewable Energy biomass plant proposed in East Springfield will not be able to qualify for millions in renewable energy subsidies in Massachusetts.  We’re thrilled to see these protections for environmental justice communities included in DOER’s new RPS regulations; for far too long Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities have been disproportionately targeted as sites for toxic and polluting facilities.

This is a second win for the Springfield community, following MassDEP’s April 2nd decision to revoke the air quality permit for the Palmer plant.
 
As we celebrate a major step forward for the people of Springfield who have been fighting this plant for more than 12 years, and for environmental justice communities across the state, we want to be clear that biomass does not belong anywhere in the Commonwealth’s clean energy future. We are concerned that DOER’s proposal includes loopholes that would allow existing polluting biomass power plants throughout the Northeast to qualify for rate-payer funded renewable energy credits in Massachusetts.
 
The Springfield Climate Justice Coalition is committed to continuing to work toward eliminating dirty biomass altogether as a source of energy. No matter where they are sited, biomass power plants pump out health-harming air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. 
 

April 2, 2021: An important WIN and... we're not out of the woods yet

On Friday, April 2, 2021, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) officially revoked the Final Plan Approval necessary for the construction of the Palmer Renewable Energy (PRE) proposed 42-mW biomass electricity generating plant.

The DEP decision provides important momentum in our efforts to stop the PRE plant, but we are not out of the woods yet. This plant has been vigorously opposed for 12 years and has earned the nickname 'zombie incinerator' for its uncanny ability to be revived after apparently fatal blows. We must keep up a vigilant campaign in case PRE tries to resuscitate its proposal by reapplying for a new project permit.

 

In addition, Governor Baker’s Department Of Energy Resources continues to push a rollback of rules that would qualify biomass energy to receive ratepayer subsidies that are intended for true clean energy alternatives like wind and solar. If they are successful, this regressive rule change could not only give the PRE plant new life but encourage development of other inefficient and polluting biomass plants in the state.​

Now, more than ever, it's important that we keep up the pressure to make sure that PRE and other biomass plants are not allowed to pollute Environmental Justice communities - or any communities- in MA!