Biomass Electricity: Clean Energy Subsidies for a Dirty Industry
American taxpayers and ratepayers are subsidizing a form of “renewable” energy—biomass electricity- that causes short and long-term harm to the public health and the environment. There are 234 of these so-called “clean and green” biomass electricity projects proposed for the U.S. The scale of these plants ranges from 25 to more than 100 megawatts (MW), often dwarfing the 255 existing biomass power facilities, which generally range from 2 to 5 MW capacity. This polluting form of electricity production currently accounts for over 50% of the so-called “renewable” energy in the U.S. and 3% of total power generation. Biomass facilities burn wood from forests and a range of other materials defined as “biomass.” It is estimated that the U.S. could meet our national energy needs for only 1 year if every tree in this country were to be burned for biomass energy.
Currently, two major federal subsidy programs benefit the biomass electricity industry at the expense of public health, clean air, clean water, and forests. Eliminating federal taxpayer subsidies for biomass commercial biomass electricity can result in more than $10 billion saved over the next three years, and a minimum of $3 to $5 billion every year thereafter.
The biomass burning industry has fostered the myth of being “clean and green” when, in reality, it is quite the opposite: electricity generated by biomass combustion, per megawatt hour of power produced, emits more climate changing greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and NOx, from the smokestack than coal, and pollutes the air with sulfur dioxides, carbon monoxide, particulates, dioxin, mercury and more.
The study provides a review of subsidy policies, and state-by-state listing of proposed projects.