Letter: A ‘daring’ column
Kudos to Tim Blagg for his daring “Missed Opportunity” column that sums up the economic and environmental loss fostered by the anti-biomass hysteria. Along with providing an economic incentive for forestland owners to manage woodlots, the creation of biomass as an energy alternative was generated as a solution to the environmental problem created by land-filling wood waste where it becomes methane, a deadly gas.
Studies at the Yale School of Forestry demonstrate that as a tree becomes overly mature, it’s core begins to decay and emit methane ... making it more prone to forest fires which, in turn, emit huge amounts of greenhouse gases without filters. In contrast, managed forests are less susceptible to disease and forest fires. And when forests are left unmanaged, as so many have for decades out west due to anti-forestry sentiments, wildfires have burned with such intensity that some soils have become hydrophobic — meaning they repel water and create “dead zones” where once there was a thriving wilderness.
The use of biomass as a fuel source emits a slow, controlled burn where particulates are minimized through baghouses and other filters. Meanwhile, the lion’s share of CO2 in the harvested wood is stored in lumber that is converted into furniture and homes, where it remains untapped for decades and possibly centuries. Biomass is a solution as long as harvesting is sustainable and the forest is not converted into house lots but remains as forest. However, the wisest use of biomass is for co and triple generation where a single fuel source is converted to electricity, heat and/or coolant. And when these plants are paired with business and industry, you create an economy that is truly local and generates a sustainable prosperity, along with a healthy ecosystem.