Forest Scientists to EPA: The Facts On Biomass Are Still the Facts on Biomass

The EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board just voted to further delay affirming the scientific consensus on the carbon benefits biomass, a move that could have major consequences for the climate, and for America’s energy future.

As part of the process leading up to the vote, the board received input and comments from experts and other stakeholders. But none so clearly expressed the undeniable scientific consensus on biomass than the March 21 letter from National Association of University Forest Resources Programs (NAUFRP), an association of scientists and educators from 80 of the nation’s top universities that seeks to advance the sustainability and productivity of American forestry.

The NAUFRP letter, posted to the SAB’s website and copied below, points back to the “Science Fundamentals of Forest Biomass Accounting,” which is still the best single document out there summarizing the scientific consensus on the carbon benefits of forest bioenergy. Signed by 100-plus top forestry scientists and experts, these are the bedrock, empirical facts that guide us at Biomass101.

You should read the whole thing, but the March 21 letter does a great job distilling an ocean of data and peer-reviewed literature into four basic, bedrock conclusions:

  1. The carbon benefits of sustainable forest biomass energy are well established.

  2. Measuring the carbon benefits of forest biomass energy must consider cumulative carbon emissions over the long term.

  3. An accurate comparison of forest biomass energy carbon impacts with thoe of other energy sources requires the use of consistent timeframes in the comparison.

  4. Economic factors influence the carbon impacts of forest bioenergy.

As we have catalogued at length on this site, whenever skeptics or agenda-driven activists argue against biomass they ignore the evidence behind one or more of these principles. That’s why it’s so critical that policymakers listen to scientists, not ideologues.