Trash and Biomass Incineration Worse for the Climate than Coal

After bringing together the nation's grassroots "No New Coal Plants" network in 2006, helping stop over 100 coal plant proposals, we've focused back on biomass and trash incinerators, which are far more polluting, expensive and worse for the climate. On climate pollution, here's where they fall:


Please note that, especially with the practice of fracking, natural gas is actually worse than coal for global warming, if you count all of the methane leakage from extraction to pipelines to end uses.  This chart is just for smokestack emissions, but for the whole picture on global warming pollution from gas vs. coal, see:

The "biogenic doesn't count" (a.k.a. "carbon neutrality") argument relies on the assumption that the extra pulse of carbon pollution is instantly sucked up by trees grown specifically to offset the emissions from the trees burned. In reality, it takes centuries to become "zero" and about 40 years for biomass to become only as bad as coal. That figure, from a study done for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, caused that state to adopt the strictest limits on biomass incineration in the nation, making it basically ineligible for renewable energy credits. Studies on this can be found in the links on the right sidebar on our biomass page: