Agencies | Governor
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Agency
Department of Environmental Quality
Board
Air Pollution Control Board
chapter
Regulation for Emissions Trading [9 VAC 5 ‑ 140]
Action Reduce and Cap Carbon Dioxide from Fossil Fuel Fired Electric Power Generating Facilities (Rev. C17)
Stage Proposed
Comment Period Ends 3/6/2019
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3/6/19  11:06 pm
Commenter: Vance Wright, 6th generation landowner, forester, logger

Biomass emissions regulation
 

I oppose regulating biomass emissions! Why?

Forests are vital to protecting the environment! Forests; keep our water clean, reduse erosion and water runoff, provide habitat for wildlife, give scenic beauty and countless recreational opportunities. Forests also have provided countless products that make our lives better and easier. No one in their right minds would disagree with that! My dad taught me to be respectful of the land and always leave it better than you found it. I have tried to live by this in my personal and professional life. 

As a landowner, I have learned the joys and challenges of trying to keep our land. I pay personal property taxes every year, I have maintenance costs, and I have worries of environmental damage from storms to envasive species. But my timberland doesn't generate much annual income to offset costs. All landowners need income to keep their land keep it in forests. And that is where timber sales come in! To sell timber, you need markets. In Virginina we have good pulpwood and sawtimber markets (at least in my lifetime). But not so for the limbs and tops of trees that are left after a harvest. That is what makes a cutover look bad and sometimes difficult to replant. These limbs and tops are biomass that wasn't being utilized until we got markets for this product to be burned for electricity. Before these markets, the biomass was either left to rot or burned on site so the land could be reforested.

Now I am no climate scientist, but I know we need to pull as much carbon out of the air as possible! To do that, we need to grow more trees. As a forester, I know forests pull carbon out of the air until that forest matures. Then that forest is net neutral in perpetuity. As a forester, I know carbon is locked up in the products made from a harvest. And then more trees are grown to pull more carbon from the air. So where does that leave biomass? If it rots on site, the carbon returns to the air in 3 to 5 years. If its burned, maybe 1 year. But wouldn't it be better it get some use from that biomass? The carbon is going back to the atmosphere either way. At least if we burn it for electricity, we are replacing part of the coal we are currently using. And landowners will have a chance at capturing a little more income to keep more land in forests that provide all those products we use daily along with all those societal and environmental benefits working forests produce for all of us. So for the good of the environment and society, keep biomass regulation minimal because it's carbon neutral!