Why 350VT supports the Ram Hinsdale Pollina Amendment (H. 715)

  • This amendment would cap the amount of Vermont’s clean heat that could be derived from liquid biofuels and renewable natural gas at 10% to minimize the damage of these sources of energy to the climate, ecosystems and the communities where they are generated.
  • These are carbon based fuels that would likely not result in significant carbon emissions reductions. Vermont would be feeding into a rapidly growing market for both types of fuels as the entire US and the world looks for alternatives to fossil fuels.
  • Liquid biofuels and renewable natural gas are not a clean heat solution — Most biofuels emit as much as or more than fossil fuels when you account for their full lifecycle.

UNKNOWNS
– Many unknowns mean that biofuels can’t be considered clean, affordable, or even available.
– Liquid Biofuels are hard to trace, making it difficult or impossible:
– To know which kind we’re buying and from what source.
– To quantify emissions.
– Biofuels may cost as much as four times as much as fossil fuels.

IMPACTS
– Biofuel crops compete with growing food—driving up food prices and harming communities where they are grown. As an example, the use of ethanol resulted in increased food prices and food riots in Mexico in 2007.
– By growing biofuels, we are losing forest and land capacity to store carbon.
– Using biofuels to heat Vermont’s homes is neither clean nor just. There are many damaging social impacts to the production of biofuels and natural gas.  Vermont doesn’t want to rely on energy that is harming others elsewhere.

  • Including these fuels or not capping them on these fuels would prevent us from undertaking the swift and deep decarbonization needed to effectively address the climate crisis and would prevent Vermont from reaching its GWSA carbon reductions goals.
  • In order to reach our goals, we need to focus on weatherization and electrification.
  • Note that New Hampshire has limited its use of renewable natural gas to 5% for its heating sources. (https://energynews.us/2022/04/20/as-n-h-lawmakers-and-utilities-embrace-renewable-natural-gas-environmental-groups-raise-concerns/)
  • Conservation Law Foundation has decided to oppose the bill on similar concerns as 350VTs. 350VT believes that if this bill must pass, this cap would help minimize some of its detrimental impacts and we support this amendment.
Background reading

Biofuels

Other False Solutions and Global Context