Anna Gyorgy and Patricia Hynes: State Senate should remove biomass from climate bill

Published: 9/2/2020 2:32:53 PM

The Massachusetts Legislature is currently finalizing climate legislation with a bill that has a serious problem. It calls commercial wood burning biomass incinerators “non-emitting sources” of energy and would encourage their construction with new incentives for municipally-owned electric companies to purchase biomass power.

Springfield City Councilor Jesse Lederman tells us that “Only one incinerator like this (is) proposed in the state, right in the center of Springfield — a city that has been named the asthma capital of the United States twice by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.”

Here are three reasons why the Traprock Center opposes commercial incineration of wood chips, wood pellets and other wood products:

1. Air pollution: Biomass burners pollute as much as coal — the dirtiest of all fossil fuels. Biomass burning results in air pollutants that cause and worsen asthma, resulting in emergency room visits, missed school and work days for children and their parents.

2. Climate crisis: Burning trees for energy increases carbon emissions comparable to fossil fuels and does so for decades, given the lag time between cutting trees and waiting for newly planted ones to mature. It is not carbon neutral.

3. Environmental injustice: Springfield is the worst place in the state to site a biomass burner, having been designated officially the worst U.S. city for someone with asthma. With a poverty rate in Springfield nearly three times the state average, and a majority of residents people of color, the location of the Palmer biomass plant is blatantly racist.

We urge support for Lederman’s petition to the Massachusetts State Senate to remove commercial wood burning biomass incinerators from the definition of nonemitting energy sources and spare the citizens of Springfield from this long-opposed danger. (Sign on at

Anna Gyorgy
Patricia Hynes

Traprock Center
for Peace & Justice

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