Washington (April 2, 2021) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) applauded today’s decision by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to heed their request and revoke the approval for a proposed biomass-fired power plant in Springfield, Massachusetts.
On December 24, 2020, Senators Markey and Warren wrote a letter to MassDEP, urging the Department to suspend Palmer Renewable Energy LLC’s decade-old Conditional Approval and conduct a new review of the proposed plant’s air quality impacts that accounts for the ongoing respiratory health pandemic, new public health data, and the impacts to the accelerating climate crisis. 
“The revocation of the approval for the Palmer biomass plant is a victory for Springfield residents, the health of our communities, and our fight for a livable planet,” said the senators in a joint statement. “We are pleased that MassDEP heeded our call to prioritize environmental justice and air quality concerns, and we are thrilled to celebrate this victory with the Springfield residents who fought so passionately against it. Today’s decision will save lives.”
The proposed biomass plant was expected to burn approximately one ton of wood per minute and emit fine particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and other harmful pollutants, which can damage the human respiratory system and make breathing difficult. Nearly one in five children in Springfield suffer from asthma, and 90 percent of city residents are categorized as living within an environmental justice population.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved Massachusetts’ State Implementation Plan for air quality standards, giving MassDEP the authority to review air quality impacts and issue permits to polluting facilities. In its revocation of Palmer’s Final Plan Approval, MassDEP invoked its legal authority under 301 CMR 7.02(3)(k) based on Palmer’s failure to commence construction of the plant within two years of the approval’s issuance.