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April 3, 2014

Verso contests report saying biomass is dirtier than coal

A report released Wednesday by the Partnership for Policy Integrity has identified Verso Paper's Bucksport mill as one of many biomass-burning facilities in 25 states that pollute the air more than modern coal plants. Verso officials said the study, and others like it, are based on "bad data and faulty assumptions."

The Bangor Daily News reported the group's study reviewed 88 emissions permits for biomass plants in 25 states. The review found that biomass plants are allowed to emit more nitrogen oxide, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter and carbon monoxide per hour than coal plants, which produce more sulfur dioxide. The group's study found that biomass plants emit around 800% more pollutants than natural gas plants and produce approximately 50% more carbon dioxide per megawatt than coal.

Bill Cohen, a spokesman for the Bucksport mill, told the newspaper in an email that the study's data does not align with the company's operating permit or operating data.

The study says biomass should not be considered a renewable or green energy source, a contention that led to consideration of restructuring the renewable portfolio standard in Connecticut last year. The move stood to phase out older biomass plants in Maine and New Hampshire from counting toward that state's renewable purchasing requirements.

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