For those of you who left early for the holiday weekend (You know who you are – and more power to you!), I thought I would note that EPA issued a final rule on Friday, deferring application of the Tailoring rule to biomass facilities for three years. The deferral responds to a petition from the National Alliance of Forest Owners. NAFO asserted that

that there is near-universal recognition that CO2 emitted from combustion of fuels derived from biomass should be excluded from GHG regulations because production and combustion of such fuels do not increase atmospheric CO2 levels. 

Of course, EPA received comment suggesting that this may not uniformly be the case and that “the use of certain types of biomass as fuel could increase atmospheric CO2 levels.” EPA’s bottom line? 

The net atmospheric impact of biogenic CO2 emissions is complex enough that further consideration of this important issue is warranted.

EPA did not specifically mention what is known as the Manomet Report, which served as the basis for the decision by Massachusetts not to grant renewable energy credits, or RECs, for a many biomass projects. Nonetheless, it remains notable that EPA made the deferral decision in order to avoid putting a major roadblock in the industry’s way, while Massachusetts refuses to call most biomass renewable – thus putting a major roadblock in the industry’s way. 

I understand federalism (I think). I don’t see RGGI and other state or regional GHG regulatory efforts as inconsistent with federal policy and they can provide some useful lessons. However, I don’t see any federalism advantage here. These policies are simply working at cross-purposes in an area where uniformity should certainly be the goal.