Scientists Weigh In On Biogenic Carbon Accounting Debate

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On June 19, 2014, over 90 scientists sent a letter to EPA urging the Agency to move forward under its Tailoring Rule by "1) moving beyond the flawed assumption that bioenergy is inherently carbon neutral; 2) rejecting the regional accounting method originally proposed in the draft Accounting Framework; and 3) ensuring a scientifically sound methodology for determining the carbon emissions impact to the atmosphere from burning long-recovery woody biomass feedstocks -- most notably, whole trees." A copy of the letter is available online. There were significant actions on this issue last year, with several groups urging EPA to find that bioenergy and other biogenic sources of GHG emissions are carbon neutral for purposes of new GHG permitting requirements under EPA's Tailoring Rule.

On July 12, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued its decision in Center for Biological Diversity v. EPA. The court vacated EPA's rule (the Deferral Rule) exempting bioenergy and other biogenic sources of GHG emissions from new GHG permitting requirements under EPA's Tailoring Rule for a period of three years. This deferral was intended to allow EPA time to study and develop a proper method of accounting for GHG emissions from these sources. The court held that EPA did not meet the standards to justify its Deferral Rule under any of the four doctrines it had invoked.

In August 2013, several biomass groups sent a letter to then-newly sworn-in EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy urging EPA to find that bioenergy and other biogenic sources of GHG emissions are carbon neutral for purposes of new GHG permitting requirements under EPA's Tailoring Rule.

On August 28, 2013, the Solid Waste Association of North America and the National Solid Wastes Management Association sent a letter to EPA Administrator McCarthy urging EPA to issue quickly a final rule clarifying how biogenic carbon emissions will be treated under Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Title V permitting requirements, and to determine that biogenic carbon emissions from municipal solid waste should be categorically excluded from the new PSD and Title V GHG reporting requirements.

 


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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