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  • Published: May 29th, 2010
  • Category: USA
  • Comments: 3

Opinion: Scientists to Congress & Obama: count the carbon in biomass


| Sourced From Switchboard.nrdc |

Today a group of leading scientists from across the country sent a letter to congressional leaders and Obama officials urging them to carefully count the carbon from biomass burned for energy as part of a comprehensive climate bill or any other leg islation or regulation. The letter makes abundantly clear that failing to do so risks sacrificing forests around the globe and putting more pollution into the atmosphere, not less.

As my colleagues have written about (here, here and here more generally), the American Power Act (APA) proposed by Senators Kerry and Lieberman provides a solid framework for reducing our global warming pollution and investing in a cleaner economy. Unfortunately, as proposed, the bill would turn a blind eye towards emissions from biomass combustion, threatening to significantly undermine the bills carbon reduction goals. (For some basic thoughts on how the bill should be amended see this fact sheet put out by NRDC and other groups after the House climate bill passed.)

I did a little video late last year explaining the fundamental flaw in the approach that the APA would take. The letter from the scientists puts it clearly:

Replacement of fossil fuels with bioenergy does not directly stop carbon dioxide emissions from tailpipes or smokestacks. Although fossil fuel emissions are reduced or eliminated, the combustion of biomass replaces fossil emissions with its own emissions (which may even be higher per unit of energy because of the lower energy to carbon ratio of biomass). Bioenergy can reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide if land and plants are managed to take up additional carbon dioxide beyond what they would absorb without bioenergy

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