For hundreds of millennia, humans have depended on wood as a basic but reliable source of fuel. Today efforts to grow that dependence in the face of an evolving energy landscape are widespread. But they’re also contentious.
The debate over biomass, an umbrella term that encompasses a range of organic materials used for energy, rests primarily on the question of “carbon neutrality.” It’s taking place at the federal level — the House Appropriations Committee voted during the summer to designate biomass “carbon neutral” — and across the states.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced in August that his administration would move to designate fuel derived from felling trees and clearing brush in forests as renewable energy. In Arizona the state’s Public Service recently ordered to research forest bioenergy as part of its power portfolio. The biomass industry’s main trade group is part of a just-hatched PR and advertising blitz planned for later in September by an umbrella renewable-energy consortium that also includes wind and solar and has dubbed itself National Clean Energy Week. [Read more…]