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On August 7, 2014, a group of nine Democratic Senators led by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) sent a letter to the EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy, on the treatment of biogenic carbon emissions from stationary sources. The other eight Senators who signed the letter are: Tim Johnson (D-SD); Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND); Ron Wyden (D-OR); Maria Cantwell (D-WA); Al Franken (D-MN); Patty Murray (D-WA); Joe Donnelly (D-IN); and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). The letter comes at a time when EPA is working to issue in final a rulemaking providing guidelines for such treatment.


In their letter, the Senators caution that treating biogenic carbon emissions in the same way as fossil fuel emissions could negatively impact the development and commercialization of advanced biofuels, biopower, renewable chemicals, and other industrial biotechnologies. They urge EPA to recognize in its treatment of biogenic carbon emissions that "carbon emissions resulting from the utilization of sustainably-sourced, renewable biomass feedstocks do not result in lasting increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, and therefore should not be subject to greenhouse gas regulations."


BRAG has previously reported on developments in the biogenic carbon debate. The most recent report is available online.
 


 

On June 19, 2014, over 90 scientists sent a letter to EPA urging the Agency to move forward under its Tailoring Rule by "1) moving beyond the flawed assumption that bioenergy is inherently carbon neutral; 2) rejecting the regional accounting method originally proposed in the draft Accounting Framework; and 3) ensuring a scientifically sound methodology for determining the carbon emissions impact to the atmosphere from burning long-recovery woody biomass feedstocks -- most notably, whole trees." A copy of the letter is available online. There were significant actions on this issue last year, with several groups urging EPA to find that bioenergy and other biogenic sources of GHG emissions are carbon neutral for purposes of new GHG permitting requirements under EPA's Tailoring Rule.


On July 12, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued its decision in Center for Biological Diversity v. EPA. The court vacated EPA's rule (the Deferral Rule) exempting bioenergy and other biogenic sources of GHG emissions from new GHG permitting requirements under EPA's Tailoring Rule for a period of three years. This deferral was intended to allow EPA time to study and develop a proper method of accounting for GHG emissions from these sources. The court held that EPA did not meet the standards to justify its Deferral Rule under any of the four doctrines it had invoked.


In August 2013, several biomass groups sent a letter to then-newly sworn-in EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy urging EPA to find that bioenergy and other biogenic sources of GHG emissions are carbon neutral for purposes of new GHG permitting requirements under EPA's Tailoring Rule.


On August 28, 2013, the Solid Waste Association of North America and the National Solid Wastes Management Association sent a letter to EPA Administrator McCarthy urging EPA to issue quickly a final rule clarifying how biogenic carbon emissions will be treated under Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Title V permitting requirements, and to determine that biogenic carbon emissions from municipal solid waste should be categorically excluded from the new PSD and Title V GHG reporting requirements.