You are on page 1of 2

The Honorable Charles E.

Grassley United States Senate 135 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510-1501

April 16, 2012 Dear Senator Grassley, On behalf of our 1.4 million members, supporters, and activists, we are writing to make sure our positions on the biomass, landfill gas, and trash provisions in the American Energy and Job Promotion Act (S. 2201) are clearly understood. First, we thank you for offering this important bill. The Production Tax Credit (PTC) has played a crucial role in developing the clean energy sector to where it is today. It is a proven job creator, and if congress fails to pass your bill, job losses will be felt across the country. We must act now. Still, there are provisions in your bill that we feel are far from ideal. Forest biomass is too often a source of additional carbon pollution and a threat to sensitive lands and wildlife. We cannot endorse continuing tax credits for the biomass industry before legislation to ensure that inefficient burning of vegetative material is in place. For example, without legislation prohibiting the burning of live plants and requiring new plants to be planted, biomass projects will indeed not be renewable. There are public health risks as well. Biomass projects are known to release harmful particulate air pollution, which is associated with increased cardiopulmonary symptoms, asthma attacks, and respiratory disease. And at the commercial scale, biomass combustion is one of the most costly forms of power generation- three times more expensive than coal, six times as expensive as natural gas, and more than double wind and solar. These projects are too expensive. Further, we have serious concerns regarding landfill to gas energy. We believe that landfill gas treatment facilities use production methods that create maximum methane and carbon dioxide gases, yet are only able to capture a fraction of what they produce. This results in fugitive emissions of harmful greenhouse gases into the environment. Consequently, the benefit of producing energy from landfill gas, instead of burning conventional fuels, is lost- the benefits are greatly outweighed by the increase in fugitive methane emissions. We urge Congress to regulate the emission of methane and other pollutants from landfills before renewing this credit. Finally, we believe that trash incineration has adverse effects on health and environment. Incinerators emit thousands of pollutants that contaminate our air, soil and water. Identified emissions include heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, arsenic, chromium, and mercury, halogenated hydrocarbons, acid gases, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds such as dioxin and furans. Even small amounts of these toxins can be detrimental to human health and the environment; mercury, for example, is a powerful and widespread neurotoxin that impairs motor, sensory and cognitive functions.

These are serious concerns. We believe the purpose of your bill is important, to incentivize producing energy from clean and renewable sources. On the balance, we believe this is a good bill, and we thank you for considering our concerns. However, with these provisions in place, we can expect destruction of public or private forests and emissions of harmful life threatening pollutants. We are working to attract additional co-sponsors for the bill, and we greatly appreciate your help moving the nation to use more renewable energy.

Sincerely,