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Bioenergy > United States > Northeast United States > Massachusetts

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Information about biofuels and bioenergy in Massachusetts.







  • Massachusetts pro-biomass coalition advocates for positive change, 30 June 2011 by Biomass Power and Thermal: "The Coalition for Biomass Energy for MASS has a simple goal: convince Gov. Deval Patrick and the state legislature in Massachusetts that biomass in the form of construction and demolition waste, forest residues and other materials, should be used in-state to produce energy."
    • "Under pressure from numerous anti-biomass organizations, the DOER crafted renewable portfolio standard (RPS) qualifications in May that all but eliminate biomass power from being eligible for Renewable Energy Certificates."
    • "Construction and demolition debris processing facilities already send material to biomass plants in Maine and Canada, Mike Camara, the coalition’s passionate chairman, said, as well as cement kilns in Pennsylvania."
    • "Starting in September, Camara will focus on crafting letters to legislators, recruiting the help of hauling, recycling, and demolition workers, as well as unions."
    • "The opposition groups have argued that the biomass plants will be harmful to the environment, as well as human health."[1]
  • MA Proposes GHG Restrictions on Biomass Power, 11 May 2011 by "The Massachusetts governor's office last week said the biomass electricity industry must meet strict emissions standards if wood-fired power plants expect to earn renewable energy credits (RECs)."
    • "Gov. Deval L. Patrick and Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray proposed the restrictions before the Legislature this week after the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) revised the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to account for the findings of an independent study."
    • "In June, the DOER-commissioned study by the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences of Plymouth concluded that large-scale, biomass-fired electricity would create 3% more greenhouse emissions (GHG) than coal-fired plants by 2050."
    • "Massachusetts, officially a commonwealth, is among the first states to regulate biomass emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency tabled the issue for three years when it announced in January a three-year deferral on GHG-permitting requirements."
    • "DOER officials hope the restrictions will encourage the biomass industry to design smaller projects for combined heat and power (CHP) units, which can provide heat and electricity for industrial parks and community districts. The Manomet study found that CHP would reduce GHGs 25% by 2050."[2]
  • Forest Owners Tell EPA to Avoid Pitfalls in Biomass Review, 5 May 2011 by SF Gate: "Today marks the close of the comment period for the EPA's proposed rule to defer the regulation of biomass from the GHG regulations for three years while it undertakes a science and policy review of regulating biogenic carbon emissions. The National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) submitted official comments today to EPA on the proposed rule."
    • "At the time of filing, Dave Tenny, President and CEO of NAFO, stated, 'EPA's reversal from the proposed to the final rule was a significant step backward for renewable energy that came as a surprise without prior notice or adequate explanation in the record. If allowed to stand, this decision will cripple the biomass energy marketplace at the very moment when our nation needs additional investment to realize its renewable energy goals.'"
    • "On January 12, 2011, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson sent a letter to NAFO's attorney stating that they would defer the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from biomass for three years while they 'seek independent scientific analysis' of the issues pertinent to the climate impacts of biogenic emissions and to finalize a rule on how biomass energy emissions are treated under greenhouse gas regulations."
    • "As EPA initiates its review, this week Massachusetts published a proposed regulation to halt most biomass energy production in the state."[3]
  • Massachusetts Suspends Biofuel Mandate, 3 August by the Hearthland Institute: "The state of Massachusetts has suspended a biofuel mandate which was set to take effect on July 1. State officials found the costs prohibitive and biofuel availability to be minimal."
    • "The mandate, backed by some environmental activists and championed by the renewable energy industry, would have required all diesel and home heating oil sold in the Bay State contain at least 2 percent biofuels. By 2013 that mandate would have increased to 5 percent."
    • "When initially passing the mandate, legislators put off filling in the law’s details until a later time. But they faced too many complications when they tried to work around the unforeseen complications. The mandate was part of the Clean Energy Biofuels Act of 2008, and the legislature has now decided not to implement the law."[4]
  • (Massachusetts governor) Patrick signs biofuels measure, 29 July 2008 by the Boston Globe: "Governor Deval Patrick signed biofuels legislation yesterday that he said will put Massachusetts at the forefront of the clean energy movement."
    • "The Clean Energy Biofuels Act will make Massachusetts the first state to exempt cellulosic biofuels from state gas taxes, creating economic incentives for companies while requiring that the fuels meet strict greenhouse gas reduction standards".
  • Fight Gears Up on Biomass, 27 July 2010 by the New York Times "Green" blog: "There is evidently no form of energy, including renewable energy, that lacks opposition. A big spat right now centers on biomass power plants."
    • "Biomass is a broad category that encompasses everything from burning whole trees to burning leftover wood chips, agricultural residues or household garbage. The focus of the argument is currently in Massachusetts, where state regulators are considering raising the bar for biomass plants."
    • "Supporters say that cutting down trees to make electricity is carbon-neutral, because the trees will regrow and absorb carbon dioxide from the air. But a recent study suggests that the trees will take years to do that, offering little short-term help."
    • "Now a group in Cambridge, Mass., is mounting a more direct assault on harnessing biomass: the Biomass Accountability Project is trotting out experts in medicine and forestry to argue against such power generators."
    • "Margaret Sheehan, a lawyer with the group, says that even if new biomass plants meet all Environmental Protection Agency regulations on air emissions, generation could still endanger human health because the standards are inadequate. For emissions of very small soot particles, she said, 'there is no safe known limit.'"[5]
  • New Rules May Cloud the Outlook for Biomass, 9 July 2010 by New York Times: "An energy technology that has long been viewed as a clean and climate-friendly alternative to fossil fuels is facing tough new regulatory hurdles that could ultimately hamper its ability to compete with renewable power sources like wind and solar."
    • "There is opposition to a proposed biomass power plant in Russell, Mass. Critics of the technology fear the use of wood products for fuel would create a rapacious industry and threaten forests."
    • "[A] long-simmering debate in Massachusetts questioning the environmental benefits of biomass has culminated in new rules that will limit what sorts of projects will qualify for renewable energy incentives there....The new proposals would, among other things, require the projects to provide 'significant near-term greenhouse gas dividends.'"
    • Biomass power, "a $1 billion industry in the United States...has long been considered both renewable and carbon-neutral on its most basic level."
    • "But many environmental groups say that the benefits of biomass power — and all forms of energy derived from organic sources, including biofuels — are realized only in carefully controlled circumstances. The cycle of carbon emission and absorption also unfolds over long periods of time that need to be carefully monitored."[6]
  • State suspends mandate for wider use of biofuels, 2 July 2010 by Erin Ailworth: "Massachusetts energy officials have suspended a requirement, scheduled to take effect yesterday, that oil retailers blend biofuel into the diesel and home heating oil they sell."
    • "State officials said they ran into too many complications as they tried to write regulations for blending biofuel, a petroleum alternative made from plant waste and other substances, and they decided that initiating the regulations now would be too costly for businesses and consumers."
    • "The decision, delivered Wednesday in a notice from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, sparked an outcry from biofuel makers, distributors, and sellers, who said their businesses will suffer without the state mandate."[7]
  • Mass. study: Wood power worse polluter than coal, 10 June 2010 by Associated Press: "A new study has found that wood-burning power plants using trees and other 'biomass' from New England forests releases more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than coal over time."
    • "The report, conducted by the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, concludes that the net cumulative emissions of greenhouse gases from replacing coal-fired plants with biomass would be 3 percent greater by 2050 than from using coal to generate electricity."
    • "Researchers arrived at the figure by comparing how much carbon is emitted into the atmosphere through the burning of wood — what they termed 'carbon debt' — with the amount of carbon removed from the atmosphere from the regrowth of forests, or 'carbon dividends.'"
    • "The report found that harvesting trees for biomass facilities could have 'significant localized impacts on the landscape, including aesthetic impacts of locally heavy harvesting as well as potential impacts on recreation and tourism.'"
    • "The study has broad policy implications for states like Massachusetts. And environmental groups called the study 'a wake up call.'"[8]
  • Banking on Fuel-Sweating Flora, 4 May 2010 by the New York Times: "A start-up company has broken ground on a Texas pilot plant that is supposed to produce ethanol and diesel in a radical new way: with an organism that sweats fuel."
    • "The company, Joule Unlimited of Cambridge, Mass., has developed several patented gene-altered organisms that absorb sunlight and carbon dioxide and combine these into hydrocarbons."
    • "Joule says its organisms release their oil and survive to make more. And the diesel fuel is easy to gather because, like most hydrocarbon oils, it is lighter than water and tends to separate. Ethanol mixes with water and must be distilled, but the technology for this is widely available."
    • "Carbon dioxide is trucked in for now, but the longer-term strategy is to locate the operation near a power plant that runs on coal or natural gas and captures its carbon dioxide. If a national cap on emissions is enacted, a power plant might be willing to pay a fuel plant to take its carbon dioxide gas."
    • "The company projects production of 25,000 gallons of ethanol a year from each acre, which would be many times higher than production from wood waste or other biomass source."[9]


Governmental organizations

Nongovernmental organizations


  • GreenFuel Technologies Corp.
  • Verenium Corporation
    • In May 2008, Verenium Corp. "opened the nation’s first ­demonstration-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Jennings, La. The facility...will use high-tech enzymes to make 1.4 million gallons per year of ethanol from the cellulose in sugar cane bagasse, a waste product." (according to the 4 June 2008 article "The race for nonfood biofuel" from the Christian Science Monitor.)


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