In 2010, the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences released a study of the carbon cycle of biomass. The Center looked at biomass using whole forests, a technique that is rarely used in biomass. Waste wood is the much more common fuel and has a more efficient "carbon profile."
The study itself concluded that biomass using waste wood is beneficial to the environment. After many press articles misinterpreted the results of the study, Manomet issued a clarification, saying in part:
"One commonly used press headline has been 'wood worse than coal' for GHG emissions or for 'the environment.' This is an inaccurate interpretation of our findings, which paint a much more complex picture."… "when the wood used to fuel an energy facility is all, or nearly all, logging debris that would have decomposed in the forest anyway, the debt period can be relatively short…"
Unfortunately, Massachusetts' Department of Energy Resources (DOER) considered only the study's overall conclusion that biomass using whole forests is not carbon efficient. The agency moved forward with its plans that will basically categorize biomass as a non-renewable energy source.
In April 2012, Massachusetts' Department of Energy Resources (DOER) finalized harsh new regulations on biomass. These rules will prevent biomass facilities from qualifying for renewable energy tax credits unless they can meet unrealistic efficiency standards. This will cause existing facilities to close or dramatically cut back energy production, and will all but prevent new facility development.
Massachusetts' new restrictive biomass regulations will hurt the industry as well as its goal of stimulating the use of renewable energy in the state.
Below is a collection of several studies by environmental experts that refute Manomet's findings:
How Manomet got it Backwards (Dr. William Strauss, President, FutureMetrics)
Carbon 101: Understanding the Carbon Cycle and the Forest Carbon Debate (Dr. Jim Bowyer, Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, et al.)
How Carbon Neutral is forest bioenergy? (Roger Sedjo, Senior Fellow and Director, Resources for the Future)
Accounting for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Wood Bioenergy (Jay O'Laughlin, Professor of Forestry and Policy Sciences, Director of the College of Natural Resources Policy Analysis Group, University of Idaho)
A Look at the Details of CO2 Emissions from burning Wood vs. Coal (Dr. William Strauss, President, FutureMetrics)