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Fight Gears Up on Biomass

Source:  Copyright 2010, New York Tiimes
Date:  July 29, 2010
Byline:  Matthew L. Wald
Original URL: Status ONLINE


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. (The same argument can be made about solar cells; manufacturing them involves releasing carbon dioxide, then takes some time to break even before yielding a net benefit in decreased carbon dioxide emissions.)

Biomass is a favored form of renewable energy because its ...

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