A decision late last week by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington marks a critical juncture in the future of the biomass power industry. The court vacated a three-year delay put in place by EPA in 2011 in its implementation of that portion of its "tailoring rule" covering biomass.
The rule sets the requirements for certain stationary sources to obtain a Clean Air Act permit for their carbon emissions. The rule would for the first time regulate carbon emissions from forest bioenergy production the same as fossil fuel emissions. The rule "tailored" its program by limiting those facilities required to obtain a permit to power plants, refineries and other large industrial plants, while exempting smaller sources like farms, restaurants, schools and other facilities. EPA delayed its implementation of the rule for biogenic emissions for three years, citing a need for further study.
While the court decision may accelerate the process for implementing the rule for biogenic carbon emissions, it does not prevent the agency from demanding and evaluating the best science in determining how to most appropriately regulate emissions from biomass facilities. EPA must continue the steps needed to adapt the rule in a way that fully accounts for the emissions benefits that are provided by biomass.
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