Wood-burning power plants have a carbon dioxide emissions rate approximately 50% higher than a coal-fired power plant
Washington (December 24, 2020) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today wrote to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) urging the agency to consider suspending and reassessing the decade-old Conditional Approval issued to Palmer Renewable Energy LLC for a proposed biomass-fired power plant in Springfield, Massachusetts, particularly as the new Biden administration determines its climate and air quality priorities. The Senators called on MassDEP to 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 proposed plant is 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. 
“Springfield residents deserve an updated air quality analysis that reflects the city’s current health and environmental justice issues, which have become more acute in the decade since MassDEP initially issued the Conditional Approval,” write the Senators in their letter to MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “In reassessing the Palmer biomass plant proposal, MassDEP needs to account for the latest research into the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory health risks in the surrounding population, and the historic burden of air pollution on the local community.” 
A copy of the letter can be found HERE.
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. And since 2013, MassDEP has had the legal authority under 301 CMR 7.02(3)(k) to revoke the 2011 Conditional Approval for the proposed biomass-fired power plant in Springfield based on Palmer’s failure to commence construction of the plant.