One of the biggest new threats to forests in the United States is a modern take on a very old idea: burning wood for energy. Dozens of large, dirty, wood-burning electricity facilities — staggeringly inefficient — are now being planned across the country. A single such facility would require increased logging on tens of thousands of acres of forest each year.
Based on the flawed premise that any burning of wood is carbon neutral, electricity generated by burning trees and wood wastes — referred to as "biomass" — is counted as renewable energy by numerous state and federal programs intended to shift our reliance away from fossil fuels. Unfortunately, biomass burning is far from carbon neutral.
Carbon dioxide released from the smokestack of a biomass facility warms the planet just like CO2 from a coal plant. And while an area logged to fuel a biomass facility may ultimately grow back, it takes decades or even centuries for a forest to recapture as much carbon as is lost when it’s logged. We don’t have decades to waste if we are to reduce our emissions fast enough to save the polar bear, coral reefs, and much of the world’s biodiversity from global warming.
Take action today and protect our forests. The Department of Agriculture has proposed regulations that would expand a massive, misguided subsidy program that encourages the harvest and burning of trees for energy. Please act now to let federal officials know that tax dollars should not go to the timber industry and power companies to subsidize actions that pollute the air, undermine climate solutions, and contribute to deforestation.