Biomass plants using dead trees could lessen forest fires

Dead trees. Pine bark beetle

The pine bark beetle has killed millions of trees in California. These dead trees are now a fire hazard. Hauling the trees to biomass plants to be burned to produce electricity will lessen the fire hazard. However, transporting the trees uses diesel fuel, and thus is polluting, plus biomass plants can be a bit messy themselves.

But still, imagine a fire facing down a mountain and hitting thousands of dead trees. The pollution into the air from such a conflagration would be way more than biomass plants produce. Unfortunately, biomass plants in California are closing because they don’t get subsidies like solar and wind do. This is short-sighted and counter-productive.

It’s truly a no-brainer because there are a number of well-located (biomass) facilities that are underutilized,” Malinowski Ball said. “It means millions of tons of organic material diverted from the least favorable environmental outcomes, such as landfilling and burning.”

Meanwhile, a large supply of organic material looms in the Sierra.

There are an estimated 66 million dead trees in California’s forests.

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