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MassDEP Revokes Approval For Springfield Biomass Power Plan

people rallying with protest signs
Paul Tuthill
A rally in Springfield in Feb. 2021 urged Gov. Charlie Baker to end support for clean energy regulations that would incentivize large-scale biomass power projects.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has revoked the approval for a proposed biomass-fired power plant in Springfield. The state’s Democratic U.S. Senators, Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, applauded the move on Friday.

Plans by Palmer Renewable Energy to build a 35-megawatt plant that would burn woody biomass to generate electricity in an industrial section of East Springfield were first disclosed more than a decade ago. From the start, it’s faced resistance from residents, local activists, and statewide environmental organizations.

The senators say MassDEP invoked its authority based on Palmer’s failure to start construction of the plant within two years of the approval being issued. 

“The revocation of the approval for the Palmer biomass plant is a victory for Springfield residents, the health of our communities, and our fight for a livable planet,” said the senators in a joint statement. “We are pleased that MassDEP heeded our call to prioritize environmental justice and air quality concerns, and we are thrilled to celebrate this victory with the Springfield residents who fought so passionately against it. Today’s decision will save lives.”

Palmer Renewable Energy did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

“Today the state’s Department of Environmental Protection has informed Palmer Renewable Energy that their air permit has been revoked!" Massachusetts State Senator Adam Gomez, a Democrat who represents a portion of Springfield, said in a statement. "Receiving this news feels like the final chapter of a twelve year fight. The amount of people there is to thank is endless and far-reaching. Thank you to the Department of Environmental Protection for listening to the people, for recognizing the severe impacts that Palmer Renewable Energy would have on nearby environmental justice communities, especially those that are already struggling with some of the highest asthma rates in the country. My heartfelt thanks also goes out to, in no particular order: Springfield City Council, Senator Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow) for his partnership on our biomass legislation, U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-Malden), federal partners, members of the state delegation, and most importantly the tireless local advocates who have dedicated countless hours over the past twelve years fighting this on the ground. To Palmer Renewable Energy – stay out and don’t come back. If you appeal, we’ll keep fighting you.” 

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