Thursday, January 13, 2011

EPA Stalls GHG Regulations for Biomass Burning

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced January 12, 2011 that it plans a three-year delay in regulating wood-fired power plants and other “biomass” incinerators under Clean Air Act provisions reducing greenhouse gases pending future consideration of the science and a subsequent rulemaking. The EPA is granting the three-year exemption despite the existing and very plain science that burning of trees and other wood products increases global warming pollution.

You can see the press release here:

Under the EPA's
Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Title V Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule ("Tailoring Rule") after January 2, 2011, facilities generating greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) totaling more than 75,000 tons per year (CO2-equivalent) would have had to get Clean Air Act permits, and show that they'd adopted the "best available control technology" or "BACT" to limit GHG emissions, but only if they already needed to get permits due to emissions of other pollutants. Starting on July 1, sources of more than 100,000 tons of GHGs per year (CO2-equivalent) would have to get permits regardless of their other emissions. The Tailoring Rule originally treated biomass emissions the same as any other GHG emissions.

However, several industries including biomass, timber and
the National Alliance of Forest Owners' (NAFO) petitioned the EPA for reconsideration and lobbied Congress. They got a reprieve from the Administration. See the NAFO press release below and also note the NAFO director Dave Tenny comes from the American Forest & Paper Association, served as deputy undersecretary for natural resources at the United States Department of Agriculture and was staff of the Committee on Agriculture in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served as counsel and policy advisor on natural resources and related issues..
EPA's announcement January 12 does two things:

1. It creates a three-year exemption for biomass facilities from the permit requirement that would have taken effect on July 1.

2. It says that EPA intends to allow facilities to claim that burning biomass is itself a form of BACT for greenhouse gas emissions.

This effectively give the biomass industry a three year window to construct facilities that do not have to comply with the EPA GHG emissions rules and employ BACT, they will likely be grandfathered-in under any new rule. There will have to be an actual rulemaking to implement the exemption (so far, there are just a few letters to members of Congress and a letter granting the National Association of Forest Owners' petition for reconsideration of the tailoring rule). The rulemaking would need to be complete by July, so a proposed rule should come soon.

Stay Tuned!

For AP Story go to:

EPA Recognizes the Benefits of Biomass Energy
Grants NAFO's petition to reconsider; outlines rulemaking and scientific inquiry
WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today granted the National Alliance of Forest Owners' (NAFO) petition to reconsider the treatment of biomass carbon emissions under the Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Title V Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule (Tailoring Rule). In doing so, the EPA announced that it will defer permit requirements for biomass energy production for a period of at least three years pending future consideration of the science and subsequent rulemaking. Dave Tenny, President and CEO of the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO), issued the following statement in response to today's announcement:
NAFO applauds EPA's action as a critical step toward recognizing the full carbon benefits of biomass as a leading source of renewable energy. The three-year moratorium is an appropriate response to NAFO's request. It will allow the EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to work with Congress, biomass producers and users, scientists and other interested parties to develop a science-based policy supporting a vibrant biomass energy sector for the long term without penalizing biomass energy production in the interim.
We appreciate that the EPA, USDA and the Administration have heard our concerns that the Tailoring Rule included a sudden and unprecedented change in policy without appropriate public participation. Over 100 bipartisan members of Congress, numerous state officials, and over 100 respected scientists have expressed their concerns about the rule. All have urged EPA to appropriately recognize the carbon benefits of biomass energy in the Tailoring Rule to support renewable energy production, rural jobs and sound forest management.
NAFO agrees with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson's assessment that "[r]enewable, homegrown power sources are essential to our energy future, and an important step to cutting the pollution responsible for climate change." We also appreciate the important contributions of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and key leaders in Congress. NAFO remains committed to working with the EPA, USDA, Congress and others to secure a policy recognizing the full carbon benefits of biomass energy while also supporting the important jobs and economic benefits it brings to rural communities.
It is now critical that we work together in the coming months on deliberate steps to support biomass energy production, remove uncertainty that harms investment and threatens jobs, support working forests and secure biomass as a strong, renewable, domestic energy source that will benefit our country long into the future.
By May 13, 2010, EPA announced the Tailoring Rule and included greenhouse gas emissions from biomass energy in the permit program. On August 3, 2010, NAFO submitted a petition asking the EPA to reconsider and defer the implementation of the Tailoring Rule's permitting requirements to biomass emissions. Today, in response to NAFO's petition, the EPA announced that the agency will complete an expedited rulemaking process by July 1, 2011, to defer for three years the application of the greenhouse gas permitting requirements for emissions from biomass-fired and other biogenic fuel sources. During the latter deferral period, EPA will seek independent scientific analysis on the issue and develop additional regulations as needed on the treatment of biomass carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act.
Pending completion of the expedited rulemaking, EPA will issue temporary guidance to the states advising them to treat biomass as Best Available Control Technology (BACT) when implementing the Tailoring Rule.
NAFO is an organization of private forest owners committed to advancing federal policies that promote the economic and environmental benefits of privately-owned forests at the national level. NAFO membership encompasses more than 79 million acres of private forestland in 47 states. Working forests in the U.S. support 2.5 million jobs. To see the full economic impact of America's working forests, visit
SOURCE National Alliance of Forest Owners

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