January 12, 2011
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced it plans to defer, for three years, greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting requirements for carbon dioxide emissions from biomass-fired facilities. The EPA seeks additional time to further analyze the science and receive public comments before issuing a second rule that determines how these emissions should be treated under GHG permitting requirements.
Under the EPA’s initial GHG rule, emissions from biomass combustion would have been considered the same as emissions from fossil fuels. This policy would reverse years of EPA considering biomass carbon-neutral, and place onerous permitting requirements on businesses such as Maine’s biomass plants and paper mills that use biomass to provide energy for their operations.
Senator Collins, along with several bipartisan colleagues, wrote to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in July to urge the agency to reconsider the regulations pertaining to biomass and to reopen the public comment process. A copy of the Senators’ letter to EPA is attached.
“I am pleased that the EPA has agreed to our request and decided to exclude emissions from biomass combustion from greenhouse gas regulations for three years. In Maine, the proposed rules would potentially affect 14 facilities alone in small communities such as Ashland and Livermore Falls,” said Senator Collins. “The EPA’s proposal to ignore the carbon neutrality of biomass could well result in the loss of jobs, leading to mill and plant closings and discouraging employers from investing in mills. We simply can’t afford this result, particularly in this tough economic climate.
“While I support addressing greenhouse gas pollution, I have reservations about the sweeping approach EPA is pursuing. I also have serious concerns about unelected government officials at EPA taking on this complicated issue instead of Congress. A better way forward is for Congress to finally tackle this issue and pass comprehensive energy legislation. That is why, last year, I introduced the only bipartisan Senate legislation with Senator Maria Cantwell that would position the U.S. to be a leader in renewable energy and energy conservation technologies, help reduce emissions, create new “green energy” jobs in our country rather than in China, protect consumers by rebating 75 percent of revenues generated by the bill directly to American families, and lessen our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.”