New EPA Framework Supports Role of Biomass Power in Reducing GHGs

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday released a key document on the role biomass can play in reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions. The Framework for Assessing Biogenic C02 Emissions from Stationary Sources addresses the complexities of modeling emissions from biomass power. In a memo issued to accompany the release, Janet McCabe, Assistant Director, Office of Air and Radiation, said that information considered by the EPA in preparing the second draft of the framework supports the finding that the use of waste-derived feedstocks and certain forest-derived products are likely to have minimal or no net atmospheric contributions of biogenic CO2 emissions.  Rather, the use of those materials may even reduce such impacts when compared to the alternate fate of disposal.

The framework is particularly relevant as it pertains to EPAs announcement in June of its plan to cut carbon pollution from the power sector by 30 percent from 2005 levels.   The Clean Carbon Plan (CCP) proposes state-specific emission reduction goals.  Each state has broad flexibility to meet the rate by 2030 by lowering the overall carbon intensity of the power sector in the state.  EPA’s CCP guidelines encourage states to look across their whole electric system to identify strategies to include in their plans that reduce carbon pollution from fossil fuel fired power plants.  According to McCabe, the EPA will evaluate the biogenic components of proposed state plans as part of the compliance plan review and approval process, and has provided the second Framework to provide clarification for states including biomass to power projects.

Janet McCabe memo:  Addressing Biogenic Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Emissions from Stationary Sources

EPA released document: Framework for Assessing Biogenic Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Emissions from Stationary Sources

From the Memo November 19 by Janet McCabe:
In the implementation of the CPP, the EPA anticipates that some states will wish to include the use of biogenic feedstocks in their compliance plans. When considering state compliance plans, the Agency expects to recognize the biogenic C02 emissions and climate policy benefits of waste-derived and certain forest-derived industrial byproduct feedstocks, based on the conclusions supported by a variety of technical studies, including the revised Framework. In addition, given the importance of sustainable land management in achieving the carbon reduction goals of the President’s Climate Action Plan, the EPA expects that states’ reliance specifically on sustainably-derived agricultural- and forest-derived feedstocks may also be an approvable element of their compliance plans. This approach is consistent with the EPA’s recognition in the proposal that every state has different energy systems and available fuel mixes. Many states already recognize the importance of forests and other lands for climate resilience and mitigation, and have developed a variety of sustainable forestry and land use management policies and programs to address these concerns.