From a Community Conversation column by Bob Cleaves, president of the Biomass Power Association, in the Sheboygan Press:

Wisconsin is in the midst of a serious debate about the environmental impact of biomass power, and whether increasing their use of clean, renewable biomass for electricity could potentially lead to unintended negative consequences, specifically with respect to forest health and greenhouse gas emissions. The truth, however, is that increasing our use of biomass power will improve forest health in Wisconsin and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.

Biomass power is carbon neutral electricity generated from renewable organic waste that would otherwise be dumped in landfills, openly burned or left as fodder for forest fires.

On average, America’s biomass power industry removes 68.8 million tons of forest waste annually, improving forest health and dramatically reducing the threat of forest fires. This forest waste includes dead debris and brush left to rot on the forest floor. Clearing this debris is a part of regular forest maintenance and is frequently done by state forest services in the form of open burns.

By using this waste to generate electricity, the biomass power industry is preventing the need for open burns and significantly reducing the risk and spread of forest fires. Waste byproducts from other industries and organic waste from the forest floor continue to be the only economically viable fuel sources for biomass power.

Fuel providers to the biomass power industry do not harvest wood solely for the purpose of generating electricity — forests are simply far too valuable.