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EPA releases final draft of Clean Power Plan


August 10, 2015
By Pellet Fuels Institute

August 10, 2015 - The Environmental Protection Agency released its final Clean Power Plan last week. The first draft was released in June 2014 and the agency released the final version after collecting and evaluating comments from all stakeholders engaged in the plan: industry, trade groups, environmental NGOs, and other interested or affected organizations.

The Clean Power Plan will require each state to develop its own custom carbon emissions reduction plan to meet a carbon emissions target that the agency has set for the state given its current energy makeup. At more than 1,500 pages (plus an 800-page implementation guideline document), the rule is complicated and most stakeholders are taking time to carefully evaluate its implications.

For the biomass industry, there are some positive aspects of the plan as well as several areas of ambiguity. In the preamble to the regulatory specifics, the EPA unequivocally embraced the role biomass can play, stating, “The EPA recognizes that the use of some biomass-derived fuels can play an important role in controlling increases of CO2 levels in the atmosphere.” However, as with many regulations, it is not that simple. For example, the level of difficulty for states to incorporate biomass power into their carbon reduction plans remains uncertain. States will need to verify the sustainability of the feedstocks used by plants under their plans. The EPA will provide further guidance on feedstocks that may be included as its Scientific Advisory Board panel continues its analysis of biogenic carbon emissions from all sources.

Additionally, there is a section of the plan that has not been finalized and is open for public comment. Known as the Federal Plan, this portion of the package is soliciting comments on a number of issues around forest-based biomass. PFI is currently discussing comments to be filed, which will focus on the forest products and biomass value chain needing certainty on the carbon profile of biomass combustion, as well as the potential added costs associated with unnecessary recordkeeping, monitoring, tracking and verification schemes.  

PFI will follow up with you on the specifics of the Federal Plan as well as how you may submit comments. 

Here are a few reactions to the final plan by related trade organizations:
Biomass Power Association
National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO)
Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI)
Business Council on Sustainable Energy

For more information about the Pellet Fuels Institute, visit http://www.pelletheat.org/.


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