Protect Forests, Say no to Biomass

Local organizations like Physicians for Social Responsibility and 350PDX are working tirelessly with City and County leadership who support a rapid, just transition to 100% renewable energy. While they have been on a trajectory to secure the best policy in the nation, pressure from industry could cripple the integrity of the resolution.

It's very important that we share a common understanding of what is and what is not "renewable energy." forest

Later this morning the City of Portland will submit the final draft of a new 100% Renewable Energy Plan. While it has been on a trajectory to become the best policy in the nation, pressure from industry could cripple the integrity of the resolution, opening a door to massive logging projects in Mt. Hood National Forest to produce biomass for power plants.

The Commissioners need to hear from you this morning before noon!

“…burning whole trees (especially conifers) to generate electricity is worse for the climate than coal burning and results in 49% more emissions.” 

Wood burning is the largest source of biomass energy and emits as much or more pollution than burning fossil fuels, including coal. Biomass operations account for an estimated 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions annually.

Since forests grow back at a much slower rate than biomass projects burn them up, it is misleading to describe biomass as carbon-neutral. The City must safe-guard living, carbon-storing, forest ecosystems as the Renewable Energy Resolution moves forward.

The draft is due by noon. Act now to keep forests off the chopping block!

1) Call: City Council and leave a message for:
    • Mayor Ted Wheeler: 503-823-4120
    • Commissioner Chloe Eudaly: 503-823-4682
    • Commissioner Amanda Fritz: 503-823-3008
    • Commissioner Nick Fish: 503-823-3589
    • Commissioner Dan Saltzman: 503-823-4151

Sample Calling Script:

Hello, my name is _________.

I live in (Portland/or Multnomah County/or your county district).

I support your efforts to create a “rapid, just transition” away from fossil fuels and towards a healthy climate. I urge you to consider the fate of Mt. Hood National Forest as you craft the Resolution. The path you put this city on today will have far-reaching impacts on the future of our region.

I am concerned that supporting biomass energy will increase logging in Mt. Hood National Forest. Public lands like Mt. Hood National Forest can be part of the climate solution, but only if these ecosystems remain intact. Portland needs a plan to reach 100% Renewable Energy that does not shift the burden onto our forests. Logging public lands to produce biomass is not a long-term solution, but in fact will degrade water quality and climate stability throughout the region. A truly ambitious plan would aim to protect the forest from commercial extraction.

Mt. Hood National Forest ranks 6th in the nation for carbon storage, an enormous asset in fighting global climate change. Opening the door to biomass will jeopardize this capacity.
I am counting on Commissioner ----------to reject biomass as a “renewable” energy in the resolution before passing it.

2) Show Up: The public hearing for the 100% Renewable Energy Resolution is on June 1st from 2pm-4pm at City Hall (1221 SW 4th Ave. Portland, OR 97204).

For the forest,

Courtney Rae, Bark Community Organizer

Courtney Rae, for Bark




Fossil Fuels: Not renewable

Nuclear Power: Not renewable

There are moves afoot in the state legislature (SB 990) to rewrite Oregon law to allow new nuclear power facilities in Oregon, and to allow storage of nuclear waste generated at those sites. Even with "re-processing" or so-called "recycling," nuclear waste will be radioactive and dangerous for tens of thousands of years.

Biomass: Not renewable

We must not include biomass in definition of renewables. Inclusion will be used to incentivize and benefit industrial deforestation, which threatens our climate and waters. Do we want new clearcuts on the Mt. Hood National Forest called "renewable" biomass projects?

Incineration of medical and municipal waste: Not renewable

We must explicitly exclude from definition of renewables the incineration of municipal and medical waste. There are active efforts to increase the capacity of Covanta, a large incinerator in Marion County, and to ship Multnomah County waste there to be burned.

  • Waste incinerators undermine efforts to fight climate change.  According to the US EPA, incineration produces more CO2 per megawatt hour than any other form of power generation, including coal. Incineration emits nearly 25% more CO2 per unit of electricity than coal (WTE: 2988 lbs/MWh Co2 compared with coal: 2249 lbs/MWh CO2.  
  • Waste incinerators emit dangerous gases, PM, CO, nitrogen oxides, metals, dioxins, furans and 190 volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

Any Large-Scale future hydroelectric development: Not renewable

These large dams warm water, kill salmon, prevent return of salmon, harm Tribes and other communities which rely on salmon and other fish—for food and for the very foundation of their culture.