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Letter: Support biomass bill


Thursday, September 13, 2018

The film Burned: Are Trees the New Coal? shows how clear-cutting of Southeastern forests for export to biomass power plants in Europe increases carbon pollution. A segment about the Burgess biomass plant in Berlin is short on data but persuasive that absentee landowners do destructive clear-cuts to feed it. But that situation north of the notches has no relationship to Senate Bill 365, which the governor vetoed (whilst approving extension of subsidies to Burgess).

The Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests and the N.H. Sustainable Energy Association support sustainable harvest of forests for the six biomass plants that SB 365 would support for a limited time. While combined heat and power from that low-grade wood is the ideal, that solution won’t happen overnight. We should support this bill for all the reasons they give. The Sierra Club is being simplistic in proposing that all burning of wood should stop. Note that the winter air problems in many areas are from poor wood burning in antiquated devices not from biomass power plants.

Incentivizing a switch to better methods for heating with wood would make more difference. Perhaps, in the future, all the low-grade wood from well-managed forests can be pelletized locally and burned in EPA-compliant furnaces. Once manufacturers make devices that allow us to generate electricity while we are heating, those of us with grid connections for our solar panels could cheaply add that source of power to support local needs from spikes in electric space heating. Override the veto.

JENNIFER SMITH

Pembroke