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Adirondack Council says biomass a good investment with forests, air quality protected

Empire State News
March 17, 2014

ALBANY – The Adirondack Park’s largest environmental organization said it supports a move to enhance the state’s investments in wood-pellet biomass fuels, using fuel harvested from forests that certified as sustainably managed, as long as air quality won’ t suffer.

The Adirondack Council’s statement on Monday came as timber and forest products companies celebrated Forestry Awareness Day at the Capitol by lobbying the NYS Legislature for additional support for wood pellet biomass development.

"State investments in climate-smart, sustainable-forest biomass are good for protecting the wild character and economic viability of the Adirondacks," said Adirondack Council Executive Director William Janeway. “Biomass can help cut our consumption of fossil fuels that pollute the air and water and accelerate climate change. But we must be careful not to over-harvest our forests or burn wood using old, inefficient equipment that belches smoke and unburned gases.”

Janeway noted that carefully managed forests can absorb and store more carbon dioxide than is produced by harvesting, processing and burning the fuel. That equation doesn’t work out if the forest is harvested too heavily. Significant public health improvements associated with cleaner air can be realized by replacing coal and oil with wood, if the wood is burned in high-efficiency boilers, furnaces and stoves, he explained.

“New York has the expertise and the technology to ensure that biomass development is done the right way,” Janeway said. “We have some very good examples of institutional biomass use in the Adirondacks, with school districts and the Wild Center in Tupper Lake using high-efficiency, locally sourced, wood heat. It is an industry with a future in the Adirondacks and beyond, but both state assistance and state controls are needed to build on this success

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