Keeping the Lights On

Aug 01, 2014

Linda Tsang  By Linda Tsang
  Director, Climate and Air Quality

  This week, EPA held public hearings on its proposed Clean Power
  Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from existing power
  plants. Each hearing in Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and
  Denver was packed with voices and opinions on the potential
  environmental and economic impact of the proposed plan. EPA got
  an earful of praise, criticism, challenges, questions, sermons, and pleas.

So what’s the fuss about? It’s about protecting the environment while keeping the lights on. EPA’s proposed plan will affect most existing fossil-fuel power plants that provide electricity for homes, schools, and businesses. EPA’s plan is a completely new regulatory regime under the Clean Air Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. States will play a big role on how to achieve these reductions while continuing to grow our economy, maintain jobs, and keep electricity costs from climbing.

The paper and wood products manufacturing industry’s use of biomass energy is part of the solution. Our products and the manner in which we produce and use biomass energy are all part of the sustainable carbon cycle that displaces the use of fossil fuels. Although EPA acknowledges that using biomass for energy can have climate benefits compared to using fossil fuels, the plan treats our biomass the same as fossil fuels. 

At the public hearing, AF&PA urged EPA to fully recognize that biomass energy can help reduce greenhouse gases. EPA needs to better understand the plan's impact on manufacturing industries so we can keep the lights on and the economy growing.