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Letter: Wood pellet boiler makes sense


Last modified: Monday, February 08, 2016
*Archive Article*
A few people have concerns about the proposal to replace the Mohawk Trail Regional School’s propane powered boiler with a wood pellet boiler. Some speculate that asthma rates may increase because of additional particulate pollution. However, modern wood boilers are very efficient and are well within strict EPA standards. In addition, a peer reviewed study conducted by the prestigious Johns Hopkins Hospital found no statistically significant difference between those who live in the city where particulate pollution is greater and those who live in rural areas where it is much less. Instead, researchers concluded that poverty is a greater predictor for higher asthma rates than outdoor air pollution and that it is indoor air pollution such as second-hand smoke, the use of chemical cleaners, other pest allergens, and more air tight housing which traps more pollutants indoors that are the main causes of higher asthma rates.

The source of the wood used in the manufacture of wood pellets comes from well managed forests. Increasing markets for low grade timber has allowed for more forest improvement cuttings which have: helped landowners manage their forests; encouraged landowners to keep their land in forest; produced many local green jobs; and provided a source of clean renewable energy.

The use of wood for energy is carbon neutral as long as the forests are growing faster than they are being cut. In Massachusetts, forests are growing three times as fast as they are being cut. The EPA has determined that wood energy will be allowed as part of the Clean Power Plan as long as the wood is derived from sustainably managed forests.

Replacing imported fossil fuels with locally produced wood energy is good for our economy and for the environment and that is why more people are opting for clean renewable wood energy.

MIKE LEONARD

Consulting Forester

North Quabbin Forestry

Petersham