Alexandria To the Editor:
Alexandrians deserve to learn of a recent act of political courage and wisdom on the part of U.S. Rep. Don Beyer. The Environmental Protection Agency later this summer will issue final rules for its Clean Power Plan. The plan will, for the first time, begin the necessary process of reducing carbon pollution from electric power plants. But some, including the powerful Virginia utility Dominion Resources, Inc., argue that burning biomass (including trees) to generate electricity is carbon-neutral, and thus a clean source of energy. Dominion has recently converted some power plants to burning wood. Congressman Beyer is deeply concerned about climate change. He knows that burning wood for power is not carbon-neutral. While replacement trees do regrow and absorb atmospheric carbon-dioxide, that process takes decades. But burning wood to generate electricity releases huge amounts of stored-up carbon immediately into the air.
On June 18 Mr. Beyer wrote to Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy, urging the EPA to not count burning trees for electricity as carbon-neutral. It's not easy to stand up to Dominion Resources and other powerful corporate interests. I commend Mr. Beyer for doing so, and urge Senators Kaine, Warner and Governor McAuliffe to do the same and ensure that the Clean Power Plan as implemented in Virginia not use wood-burning as a method to reduce power-plant carbon pollution.