Burning wood and other biomass quite literally means funneling carbon into the atmosphere by burning it in its most raw form, but Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt has decided that burning wood is "carbon neutral."
Pruitt made the announcement yesterday during a meeting with lobbyists from the forest industry.
The announcement, made by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt during a meeting with Georgia forestry leaders, signals an administrative policy shift that will treat all burning of biomass as carbon-neutral "when used for energy production at stationary sources," according to an EPA statement.
In practical terms, this means burning biomass for energy will be treated the same as wind and solar energy even though neither wind or solar involve funneling carbon back into the atmosphere.
The decision is based on the idea that you can simply plant another tree to replace the one you burned, which is technically true, but it takes decades for a tree to grow and suck as much carbon out of the atmosphere as you release by burning a tree. Extra carbon pumped into the atmosphere in the short term won't be removed through natural processes until it's too late.