Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wood Burning Power Plants in Massachusetts -- Doubts Creep In

Massachusetts had embraced wood-burning power plants in a big way, investing $1 million this year in power plants in the western part of the state.

The Boston Herald now reports that the state is rethinking its emphasis on wood-burning plants. Critics of the wood-burning plants say supplying the plants with sufficient wood would cause deforestation in the surrounding areas. And the plants would emit more carbon dioxide than coal-fired plants.

Massachusetts's Patrick Administration is seeking more information into the adverse effects of generating electricity from wood-burning plants. The state Environmental Affairs Secretary is ordering a 6-month study of the issue. Meanwhile, the Department of Energy Resources is developing new regulations for biomass power plants.

This is the kind of news one has mixed feelings about. On the one hand, it's gratifying to note the government is taking environmentalists' concerns seriously and ordering a review of the greenhouse-gas and deforestation effects of the wood-burning plants.

On the other hand, shouldn't they have done this before spending $1 million on the plants?

On balance: better to reconsider late than never. And it's not like the $1 million was a total waste. I'm sure it did a lot of good for many state residents.

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