Booker, Markey, Warren, Van Hollen Introduce Legislation to Assess Emissions from Forest Biomass

Booker, Markey, Warren, Van Hollen Introduce Legislation to Assess Emissions from Forest Biomass

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ed Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced the Forest Biomass Emissions Act of 2024, legislation that would direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assess the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with forest biomass combustion for electricity and study the impact of the industry on communities living in direct proximity to forest biomass industrial areas, including mills.  

The Forest Biomass Emissions Act of 2024 builds on efforts to address concerns related to combustion of forest biomass for electricity generation and its impact on both the environment and public health. This includes examining the impact on air quality, noise pollution, and other environmental factors that may affect the health and well-being of people living in close proximity to these facilities. Wood pellet biomass mills have been expanding particularly in low-income, majority-Black communities across the South. 

“Low-income and minority communities often bear the disproportionate burden of environmental hazards and injustices, and the harms from forest biomass facilities are no exception,” said Senator Booker. “Examining the impact of biomass combustion on air quality, public health, and the climate will help us craft equitable environmental policies that address these issues in tandem. All Americans, regardless of their zip code, should be protected from the devastating effects of environmental degradation.”

There are more than 20 wood pellet mills from Texas to Virginia, with over a dozen more planned. Many of these facilities have benefitted from grants and tax breaks in addition to increased international demand due to subsidies. At the same time, the consequences of this energy production have not been fully measured. Over a million acres of U.S. forest have been cut and combusted to supply the biomass industry, releasing millions of tons of carbon dioxide as well as harmful co-pollutants that impact air quality and health.  

The Forest Biomass Emissions Act of 2024 would:

  • Require the EPA to account for the full life cycle of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of electricity from forest biomass when enacting relevant rules and regulations.
  • Task the EPA with conducting an evaluation of the impacts on communities living in the direct proximity of facilities involved in the production of electricity from forest biomass, including forest biomass harvesting areas, pellet mills, and power facilities.
  • Mandate the EPA to collect data on air and noise pollution considering the race and socioeconomic status of impacted individuals, and to submit a report to Congress. 

The Forest Biomass Emissions Act of 2024 is endorsed by the following organizations: Natural Resources Defense Council, Southern Environmental Law Center, National Wildlife Federation, Clean Air Task Force, Sierra Club, Dogwood Alliance, Concerned Citizens of Northampton County, North Carolina, Concerned Citizens of Cook County, Georgia, Greater Greener Gloster, Mississippi, Mississippi ACLU, and Earthjustice.

To read the full text of the bill, click here.

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