On February 23, 2018, Scott Pruitt announced a new EPA policy which will treat forest biomass burned at power plants as carbon neutral in all future regulations. According to Pruitt, the policy will provide “much-needed certainty and clarity” on the carbon neutrality of forest biomass – a clarification that the forest and paper industries have long sought. Biomass involves obtaining energy by burning wood and other organic matter which is classified as renewable energy in the European Union and United Nations because plant stocks can be replaced with new growth. In the U.S., regulatory uncertainty regarding how the EPA would treat carbon emissions from forest biomass has hindered investment and growth in the biomass energy production sector. In his announcement, Pruitt also noted that the EPA’s new policy is consistent with legislative language contained in the February budget deal shielding facilities that burn wood and other organic matter from greenhouse gas regulation.
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