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Council President Lederman Calls for End to State Incentives for Biomass Polluters

Springfield City Council President Jesse Lederman traveled to Boston on Wednesday morning to testify at the State House in front of the House Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, & Energy in support of legislation that would remove another proposed incentive for biomass incinerators like the one he has long opposed in East Springfield.

“From the steps of City Hall, to the City Council Chamber, the halls of the State House, and even the federal government – I’ve been proud to stand together with residents and advocates across our city to make clear that the days of polluters being rubber stamped in Springfield are over,” said Council President Lederman, “Together we’ve ensured this long-proposed incinerator’s state and local permits were revoked, outlawed the burning of construction and demolition debris in our city, and beaten back multiple attempts by their powerful lobbyists to introduce new state incentives to fund their pollution.”

Today, Council President Lederman was testifying in favor of legislation that would permanently remove biomass incinerators like the one proposed in Springfield from the list of incentivized fuel sources purchased by Municipal Light Plants, local energy boards primarily existing in smaller, suburban communities in Massachusetts.

“This particular challenge dates back to 2020 and the well-intentioned attempt to bring municipal light plants into compliance with the Commonwealth’s goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through an omnibus climate bill. However, the original inclusion of biomass as a so called non-carbon emitting source in that effort was, and remains, scientifically inaccurate and a dangerous end-run around the already established rules process that governs the renewable portfolio standard normally applied to these types of initiatives,” said Council President Lederman in his testimony before the Committee.

Council President Lederman was heavily involved in the 2020 effort to stop the inclusion of biomass in the state’s expansive climate bill, resulting in a five-year moratorium on the proposal.

“Today, that moratorium is a ticking time bomb threatening the public health and environment of my constituents in the City of Springfield,” said Council President Lederman in his testimony, “Even though the proposed incinerator in Springfield has been stripped of it’s state and local permits, and remains ineligible for other state incentives through the renewable portfolio standard, its developers continue to challenge those decisions in court and have courted contracts with MLP’s if the incinerator is allowed to be constructed.”

Council President Lederman is one of the longest-standing opponents of the proposed biomass incinerator, working to halt its construction as a community member prior to his election to the City Council, and steadfastly navigating the establishment of local and state protections for the city since his election.

Lederman’s work on the issue as a City Councilor has included:

· Securing outside legal counsel from the Conservation Law Foundation to successfully challenge the incinerator’s local permits.

· Soliciting the support of United State Senator Ed Markey to successfully challenge the incinerator’s state air permit in 2021.

· Multiple resolutions and sign on letters urging the state legislative delegation to prevent further state incentives for biomass incineration.

· Testimony in front of numerous state entities including the Massachusetts State Senate, Massachusetts House of Representatives, and the Department of Energy Resources.

· Establishing a public petition that garnered more than 7,000 signatures in opposition to state biomass incentives.

“It has been a grassroots community effort from day one. It began with community leaders like Michaelann Bewsee sounding the alarm and leading the charge, and it gave birth to a thriving movement of resident leaders standing up for clean air in our community that continues to this day with groups like the Springfield Climate Justice Coalition,” said Lederman, “The history of the effort to stop this biomass incinerator is a cautionary tale of what can happen when elected officials aren’t paying attention, or aren’t acting in the best interest of their constituents. But, it is also evidence of the power we have as a community to stand up and demand change, even when the powers that be might tell us it’s too late. They said we’d never stop this incinerator. We did.”

Springfield City Council Vice President and Ward 3 City Councilor Melvin Edwards traveled with Lederman to Boston on Wednesday to support his testimony and efforts. Edwards has been a member of the City Council since 2010 and an outspoken opponent of the biomass incinerator.

“We have stood united in defense of our community from this threat, and Council President Lederman has been steadfast and unyielding in the effort, no matter the barriers that emerged,” said Councilor Melvin Edwards.

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