Appeals Officials Uphold Decision Blocking Springfield Biomass Plant

Community members holding a banner reading "Welcome to Springfield the Asthma Capital of the USA" to oppose a proposed biomass plant.

Protesting the biomass plant in Springfield. CLF photo.

November 30, 2022 (BOSTON, MA) – The Massachusetts Office of Appeals and Dispute Resolution has upheld a Department of Environmental Protection decision to revoke permits for a proposed biomass power plant in Springfield. U.S. Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, Springfield City Councilors, and Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) released the following statements in response.

“The revocation of the approval for the Palmer biomass plant was—and continues to be—a victory for Springfield residents, the health of our communities, and our fight for a livable planet,” said U.S. Senator Ed Markey, “I am pleased that the Massachusetts Office of Appeals and Dispute Resolution has upheld the Department of Environmental Protection’s decision to prioritize environmental justice and air quality concerns. Our communities are not sacrifice zones for polluting projects, and I am glad that our Springfield families will not have to face the burden of the dangerous Palmer plant.”

“This decision is a win for environmental justice,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “I’m glad that state regulators once again heeded the call from residents, Senator Markey and me to protect and improve the air quality of our Springfield community.”

“Burning wood for electricity is a bad idea to begin with and building a biomass plant in a residential neighborhood is just evil,” said Johanna Epke, Staff Attorney at CLF. “The Department of Environmental Protection was right to revoke this permit the first time around, and the appeals office has made the right call today. We will continue our piece of this fight to protect air quality in Springfield by representing the City Council in Land Court in opposition to this facility.”

“For more than a decade Springfield residents and elected officials have made clear our resounding opposition to outside profiteers seeking to pollute the air of our children and seniors through this proposed biomass incinerator,” said Springfield City Council President Jesse Lederman, “The DEP made the right decision when they revoked this air permit in 2021, and Office of Appeals and Dispute Resolution made the right decision today. I’m thankful to our partners, including grassroots organizations with the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition, the Conservation Law Foundation, and Senator Ed Markey. Together we are making clear: the days of polluters being rubber-stamped in cities like ours are over.”

“This is a story of perseverance. It’s been a decade of twists and turns, but our resolve never wavered. East Springfield is not an appropriate site for a biomass incinerator. We will never stop defending this position and the air quality of our city,” said Ward 2 Springfield City Council Michael Fenton.

In April 2021, the Department of Environmental Protection revoked a key air permit originally issued in 2012 for the proposed biomass facility. The Palmer Renewable Energy Facility would have burned wood to generate energy. The company appealed that decision, which resulted in the ruling Monday.

Experts are available for further comment.