August 14, 2013

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A ruling last month from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has overturned an EPA decision that temporarily exempted biomass power plants from new greenhouse gas regulations.  In 2011 EPA decided to defer for three years any decision on whether to permit greenhouse gas emissions from biomass plants in the same way as emissions from power plants that burn fossil fuels.  Supporters of that decision argued that carbon dioxide emissions from burning biomass—typically trees and other forest products—are less harmful to the environment than emissions from burning fossil fuels because biomass emissions are effectively neutralized by carbon being pulled from the environment as a result of new-growing trees.

The D.C. Circuit rejected EPA’s rationale for temporarily exempting biomass plants, however, siding with the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League and other environmental groups challenging EPA’s decision.  The Court’s decision is available here, and you can read a State newspaper report on the ruling here, which focuses on the impact it may have on a new biomass plant in Allendale County.