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Just How 'Green' Is Biomass Energy?17:24
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In this July 2008 file photo, Bill Hull, founder of Hull Forest Products, poses with a handful of wood chips at the site of a proposed 50-megawatt power plant, which would run on the waste wood chips in Russell. (Charles Krupa/AP)
In this July 2008 file photo, Bill Hull, founder of Hull Forest Products, poses with a handful of wood chips at the site of a proposed 50-megawatt power plant, which would run on the waste wood chips in Russell. (Charles Krupa/AP)

In order to keep its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050, Massachusetts needs to develop cleaner, renewable energy sources. One of the alternatives proposed is been wood-burning power plants — so-called biomass. Trees are, in theory, renewable, and while they emit carbon when burned, they work to absorb it from the air while alive.

In November 2009, the Patrick administration said it is rethinking its support of wood-burning power plants, which have raised the ire of some environmental activists who say biomass power plants could lead to the clear-cutting of forests.

A recent study commissioned by the state Energy Resources Department has thrown into question just how green wood-burning energy is.

Guests:

  • James McCaffrey, Director, Massachusetts Sierra Club
  • Robert Cleaves, President, Biomass Power Association
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