Public hearing on clean energy rule changes planned

Recorder Staff
Published: 7/14/2017 7:59:38 PM

The state Department of Energy Resources plans to schedule a western Massachusetts public hearing on proposed rule changes that would provide clean energy subsidies for wood boilers and other thermal technologies that emit more pollution than fossil fuel plants per unit of energy generated.

The decision to allow the Aug. 7 hearing, from 10 a.m. to noon at Holyoke Community College, comes after citizens’ groups and individuals from western and central Massachusetts petitioned DOER for an extension of the public comment period and for a second public hearing beyond Friday’s Boston session, arguing that residents in western Massachusetts will be significantly impacted by logging operations and trash-burning that will be subsidized through this proposal.

Environmental, public health, environmental justice, and consumer advocacy groups have raised concerns that the proposal would significantly undermine Massachusetts’ landmark protections established in 2012 as part of the State’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard for electricity producers.

Those regulations established strict requirements for sustainable forestry practices and measures to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

The new proposal for an Alternate Energy Portfolio Standard, they argue, would lead to substantial increases in air pollution by making forest-derived biomass fuels and garbage incineration eligible for clean energy credits.

Mary Booth of Pelham, of the Partnership for Policy Integrity, says the new regulations would also contribute toward climate change at a time when each day’s climate news makes it clear that the need is dire to take action now.  

The public comment period has now been extended to Aug. 7.

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