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Biomass Energy: Beware of the Costs

After the Smurfit-Stone Container Corp.'s linerboard plant in Missoula announced that it was closing permanently, there have been many people including Montana Governor Switzer, Missoula mayor John Engen and Senator Jon Tester, among others who advocate turning the mill into a biomass energy plant. Northwestern Energy, a company which has expressed interest in using the plant for energy production has already indicated that it would expect more wood from national forests to make the plant economically viable. The Smurfit Stone conversion to biomass is not alone. There has been a spade of new proposals for new wood burning biomass energy plants sprouting across the country like mushrooms after a rain. Currently there are plans and/or proposals for new biomass power plants in Maine, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Florida, California, Idaho, Oregon and elsewhere. In every instance, these plants are being promoted as “green” technology.

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