Biomass and Carbon Accounting- Two Letters and a Powerpoint
Found these on the Society of American Foresters Policy website here. First, there’s a link to a powerpoint by Al Lucier on biomass and carbon.
A consortium of research institutions has, over the last decade, developed life cycle measures of all inputs and all outputs associated with the ways that we use wood: a thorough environmental footprint of not just managing the forest, but harvesting, transportation, producing products or biofuels, buildings or other products, maintenance and their ultimate disposal. 4 Results of this research are clear. When looking across the carbon life cycle, biomass burning does produce some fossil fuel emissions from harvesting, transportation, feedstock preparation and processing. These impacts, however, are substantially more than offset by eliminating the emissions from using a fossil fuel. Sustainable removals of biomass feedstocks used for energy produce a reduction in carbon emissions year after year through a reduction in fossil fuel emissions far greater than all of the emissions from feedstock collection and processing. When wood removals are used to produce both renewable materials as well as bio-energy, the carbon stored in forest products continues to grow year after year, more than off-setting any processing emissions while at the same time permanently substituting for fossil fuel intensive materials displacing their emissions.
Finally, biomass power facilities generally contribute to a reduction of greenhouse gases beyond just the displacement of fossil fuels. The use of forest fuels in a modern boiler also eliminates the methane (CH4) emissions from incomplete oxidation following open burning, land filling, or decomposition which occurs in the absence of a higher and better use for this material. Methane is a 25 times more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2. In contrast, the mining of coal and exploration for oil and gas release significant amounts of methane and other harmful pollutants into the environment. Any modeling to examine the impact of carbon-based fuel sources must account for all of these impacts.
Now, think about the scientists who signed this letter and the analytical suggestions in the Angora lawsuit for NEPA. Perhaps lawsuits, as well as scientific papers, would be best informed by a vigorous public debate over knowledge claims.