Reckless and unjust

Letter to the Editor, Greenfield Recorder

Originally published 6/24/2019 7:50:25 PM

The state Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has its head in the sand in light of current environmental health findings regarding the human health and climate polluting effects of burning biomass to generate energy. Calling it “clean energy” and promoting legislation to give state renewable energy subsidies, DOER is also backing a proposed Palmer Renewable Energy biomass plan to be sited in East Springfield, which will burn wood chips, wood pellets and other wood products. Here are three reasons that it is reckless and unjust.

1. Air pollution: Biomass burners pollute as much as coal – the dirtiest air polluter of all the fossil fuels – emitting air pollutants that cause and worsen asthma, resulting in ER visits, missed school and work days for children and their parents.

2. Climate Crisis: Burning whole trees for energy increases carbon emissions compared to fossil fuels and does so for decades, given the lag time between cutting trees and waiting for newly planted ones to mature. It is not carbon neutral.

3. Environmental Injustice: Springfield is the worst place in the state to site a biomass burner, having been designated as the worst U.S. city for someone with asthma by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Moreover, Springfield residents have a poverty rate nearly three times the state average; and a majority of the city’s residents are people of color. The state’s siting choice is blatantly racist.

What can we do? Submit a letter, opposing the proposed legislation to give state subsidies for biomass plants and siting a biomass plant in Springfield, to John Wassam electronically at or via mail to the Department of Energy Resources, 100 Cambridge Street, Suite 1020, Boston, MA 02114.

Patricia Hynes