CLF Prevails Again Over Dirty Biomass Plant

Land Court issues another setback to controversial proposal

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

November 30, 2023 (BOSTON, MA) – The Massachusetts Land Court has issued a decision upholding the victory the Springfield City Council and Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) won before the Zoning Board of Appeals in 2021. The decision reaffirms that building permits issued in 2011 to construct the proposed Palmer biomass plant are no longer valid. CLF released the following statement in response.

“It is unconscionable that anyone would build such a dirty power plant right across the street from a residential neighborhood,” said CLF attorney Johanna Epke. “Inefficient biomass plants like the one proposed here don’t make sense anywhere in 2023, and especially not in a community in Springfield already overburdened by air pollution. Burning wood for electricity worsens asthma and other respiratory conditions and sets us back in reaching mandatory climate goals, and the court made the right decision.”

The Springfield Building Commissioner issued Palmer a permit in 2011 and required that it start construction within 180 days, which it has not done. The Springfield zoning ordinance was updated in 2013 and this type of plant would now need a special permit, which would require City Council approval and helps explain why Palmer is so desperate to keep this old permit alive. The Land Court fortunately recognized the absurdity of Palmer’s argument that a 180-day permit could still be valid over a decade later.

CLF experts are available for further comment.