Front Porch Blog

Energy from the north woods?

BIOMASS: A new study looks at the harvest costs and environmental effects of removing “junk” trees to produce electricity and heat.
[ Minnesota ] In the Northland, biomass generally means the stuff left behind at logging sites, or trees and brush too small for loggers to bother cutting. Promoters say biomass can help wean Minnesota off polluting coal, help make the state energy self-sufficient and create jobs in the north woods. Critics say sucking more fiber out of the forests could hurt habitat for amphibians, insects and other wildlife. And they say little is known of the long-term effect on future forest growth. A study being conducted on plots across the Superior National Forest should help shed light on how far biomass can go in Minnesota . Don Arnosti, project manager for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, said the study should put real numbers behind claims that biomass is Minnesota ‘ s green answer to dirty coal. “The people promoting biomass energy as an economic windfall really don ‘ t know how it will work because they don ‘ t know what the real cost of the fuel will be,” Arnosti said. “As usual with natural resources, the promoters are way ahead of the protectors.”

News notes are courtesy of Southern Forests Network News Notes




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