B. Cleaves: More investigation needed

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This is in response to a Sun Journal story, “New federal analysis favors Maine biomass plants” (Nov. 25).

We appreciate the acknowledgement by the Sun Journal of the Environmental Protection Agency analysis recognizing biomass for its many environmental benefits. The new framework will help BPA members such as ReEnergy keep more than 100 Mainers employed at their facilities, and hundreds more who work in the forestry industry sustainably harvesting forest residue.

However, it is troubling that the Sun Journal cites inaccurate claims by an often-discredited opponent of biomass. To say that biomass is “out-competing” wind and solar for tax incentives is simply false. If the Sun Journal had explored those claims, it would have found that biomass qualifies for half the incentives awarded to other renewable energy sources.

Our members use predominantly low-value wood — forestry leftovers discarded by foresters that have little other use.

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ReEnergy has achieved certification to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative standard, and is the first company solely devoted to electricity production to be certified to that standard. This certification verifies that their biomass procurement program promotes land stewardship and responsible forestry practices.

Biomass is integral to Maine’s economy, particularly with the downturn of the paper industry. Scientists broadly recognize it as a low-carbon replacement for fossil fuels. Additionally, biomass is a state export that we sell on the electric grid throughout the Northeast.

There are many myths surrounding our industry. We are disappointed that the Sun Journal repeated biomass opponents’ unfounded claims without further investigation.

Bob Cleaves, Portland

President and CEO, Biomass Power Association

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