Utilities Commission decision on wood bioenergy underscores need for environmental safeguards
Late yesterday, the North Carolina Utilities Commission ruled that Duke Energy can use electricity derived from burning whole trees, rather than just wood waste, to comply with state renewable energy targets. Environmental Defense Fund and the Southern Environmental Law Center had asked the Commission to deny Duke’s request because North Carolina currently lacks environmental safeguards to ensure that burning whole trees to generate electricity is sustainable and protects our forests.
The Commission’s decision underscores the need for North Carolina policymakers and regulators to enact sensible environmental safeguards to protect forests, air, water and public health from the unintended consequences of bioenergy development.
“Wood-based bioenergy can help North Carolina transition to a low-carbon future, while creating jobs in rural communities. For trees to be a truly sustainable energy source, however, North Carolina must have procedures for carbon accounting, as well as protections for water, air, and wildlife, while preserving forests with high conservation value,” said Kristen Coracini, energy policy specialist with the Southeast office of Environmental Defense Fund.
“North Carolina must wean itself off dirty coal generation in favor of cleaner energy sources. Without environmental safeguards in place, though, cutting trees and burning them with coal in traditional power plants is not a sustainable solution,” said Gudrun Thompson, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.
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