Regular readers know that there’s no easy answer to the question “is it good or bad for the environment to burn wood for heat and/or power?”
Inside Climate News took a gander at the issue through the lens of Vermont, which is pushing wood-as-a-fuel. (The story is here)
One reason for the state’s big bet on biomass is what wood-burning would displace: Vermonters rank second nationwide in their use of heating fuel oil per capita.
State agency leaders and some energy advocates see modern wood heat as a “win-win-win”: good for the climate because it displaces fossil fuels, good for the local economy and good for the state’s forest-related industry.
“We import 100 percent of the fossil fuels we use in the state of Vermont,” said Johanna Miller, the energy and climate program director for the Vermont Natural Resources Council.
But doubling down on wood heat as a climate change mitigation strategy is predicated on some assumptions, including that fuel from Vermont forests will be sustainably harvested.
All this sounds familiar to New Hampshire, which went through this debate when deciding whether to subsidize wood-burning power plants (we did, then we didn’t) and at Dartmouth, which is deciding how much, if any, biomass heat to include as it revamps the campus.