Wood fired (biomass) generation is not a clean and green technology

A new use for the bankrupt Missoula paper mill might save jobs, but beware of “greenwashing”-

“Biomass” fuel, as it is often called, is said to be environmentally friendly and carbon neutral. It may be that way sometimes, but cutting down dead forests, hauling them off and burning them to make steam for electricity is not.

Dr. Thomas Power discusses why this is so.

Guest Column (in New West). Biomass Potential for Old Montana Mill Raises Many Questions. By Thomas Power.

One additional problem Dr. Power doesn’t mention is what happens when the beetle killed forest fuel is exhausted or too much decayed and a green stand of trees is on the horizon?
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More recent wildlife relevant news on biofuels.
Both of these article say monocultures of biofuels are environmentally harmful projects.

Diverse Landscapes Are Better: Policymakers Urged To Think Broadly About Biofuel Crops. Science Daily
Jan.26, 2010. Biofuel Crop Diversity Adds Value, Researchers Say. Science Daily.






  1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    This is likely to become an issue all over the West because there are so many dead and dying lodgepole pine. I’d bet 90% of the West’s mature lodgepole pine is going to die. Much of it is already dead.

    A wood-burning plant will be coming to your neighborhood and billed as a big help for the environment.

  2. Linda Hunter Avatar

    These ideas are the most stupid green washed ideas yet. The forest needs it’s dead trees just like a garden needs mulch and compost. When they create these big wood burning machines they won’t stop at the edge of dead debris either. They will create these big monster machines that need more and more “biomass”. This idea needs to be stopped right away. Speaking for the bears in the woods, there will be nothing for them to eat in many places if there are not dead trees making the ants and grubs flourish. This is sort of like the idea of scrapping the desert floor of all life in order to put in wind towers.

  3. jdubya Avatar

    Of course not. Anybody who thinks burning anything is “green” is an idiot.

  4. JimT Avatar

    Yet, if carbon trading gets here….you will see great emphasis on switching to biomass as a supposed way to get green. There was an interesting discussion on NPR yesterday on Talk of the Nation if anyone wants to log into their archives and listen. Technical as hell, but basically, it is a sham when it comes to really reducing carbon emissions, and the banks and financial industry stand to make billions on the transactions. The Wall Street lobby is strongly pushing Congress to get this through, which should make any of us suspicious…~S~


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan