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Massachusetts energy and environment officials released groundbreaking biomass standards last month that were based on the 2010 Manomet Study of Woody Biomass Energy.
The new regulations, released on April 27, were designed to provide Renewable Portfolio Standard credits only to biomass energy plants that reduce overall carbon emissions.
In June 2010, Manomet released the results of a study that found burning biomass for energy could initially increase carbon in the atmosphere - as compared to burning fossil fuels. The study found that over time, with forest growth, the excess carbon can be recaptured to the point where carbon in the atmosphere is lower than it would be with fossil fuel use.
In a recent article in Partnerships magazine, Manomet President John Hagan wrote that the “conclusions are clear" and have "huge implications for [greenhouse gas] accounting and therefore climate policy worldwide.”
Since the report was issued, several other studies reached the same conclusions on biomass energy. The Massachusetts standards were well received by climate change analysts.
“These standards are the first in the world to set a performance requirement for biomass,” wrote Natural Resources Defense Council Senior Scientist Sami Yassa. “The new framework is critical to reducing carbon emissions and protecting forests, both in Massachusetts and nationally.”
State officials are scheduled to hold a webinar on May 16 to explain the regulations.