As reported by the U.S.-based Waste Business Journal (www.wastebusinessjournal.com), environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, the Conservation Law Foundation and the Natural Resources Council of Maine, filed suit in April 2011 over EPA's plan to exempt biomass-fired and other biogenic fuel sources from having to meet first-time greenhouse gas (GHG) permitting rules, claiming that the agency does not have the authority to retroactively exclude biomass facilities from the rules' scope.
On March 21, 2011, EPA issued a proposed rule to defer GHG permitting requirements for biomass for three years.
The proposal also contains a final decision to reconsider the inclusion of biomass in EPA's "tailoring" rule.
Biomass was included in the final version of the tailoring rule, though the agency acknowledges in the text of that rule that the issue was not addressed specifically in its proposal.
While the rule was under development, the National Association of Forest Owners (NAFO) and other groups repeatedly urged the agency in public comments to exempt biomass facilities from the scope of GHG permits.
Biomass supporters argue that the fuel is "carbon neutral" because plants absorb the same amount of carbon when they grow as they emit when burned.
As part of the reconsideration process, EPA first announced on January 12, 2011 its plan to defer for three years GHG permitting requirements for biomass-fired and other biogenic sources.
Environmentalists are filing suit to try to block the exclusion of biomass from the tailoring rule, pointing to new studies that show higher-than-expected GHG emissions levels from such facilities.