PETITION: Say NO to Dirty Energy! Stop the McNeil Biomass Plant Expansion
Please add your name to the following petition, created by 350Vermont and StopVTBiomass.

PETITION: Say NO to Dirty Energy!

Expanding the McNeil Power Plant is Bad for People & the Planet 

Burlington Electric, Vermont Gas, & Ever-Green Energy are planning a "District Energy” project to expand the McNeil wood-burning power plant and sell the steam to UVM Medical Center and potentially other customers, including UVM. The $42 million project would require construction of two miles of steam pipes and would result in more air pollution in our community.

McNeil: Vermont’s Largest Stationary Source of Greenhouse Gas Pollution

Burlington’s McNeil power station is a highly polluting and inefficient biomass power plant built in 1984 that annually burns roughly 400,000 tons of wood, including whole chipped trees, logged from forests in Vermont and New York. According to EPA data McNeil is the largest stationary source of greenhouse gas emissions in Vermont, emitting 453,000 tons of CO2 in 2021. Incredibly, Burlington Electric does not count these emissions. Even though the McNeil plant emits more CO2 than a coal plant per unit of energy, the City’s “Net Zero” Roadmap states that the “District Energy” project, which would increase and lock in McNeil’s greenhouse gas emissions for decades, is a pathway to “Net Zero.”.

Why Burlington Must Reject the District Energy Project

Locks in dirty energy from McNeil for decades, prolonging its climate-related and other harmful impacts. The climate and ecological emergency requires that we reduce greenhouse gas pollution from all carbon based fuel including wood.

Harms Human Health. McNeil emits fine particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and other pollutants which are harmful to human health. Fine particulate matter causes lung & heart diseases & premature death, & worsens existing conditions such as asthma.

Burning wood to generate electricity squanders our precious forests. Forests are one of our greatest allies in mitigating atmospheric carbon and protecting communities from extreme weather events that are more likely with climate change. McNeil expansion threatens our forests by (1) removing nutrients, (2) reducing wildlife habitat, (3) encouraging whole tree harvest, (4) removing non commercially viable biomass, and (5) reducing stored carbon and future carbon sequestration. There are responsible ways to harvest and use wood products, but burning forests for electricity threatens the climate, biodiversity, and public health.

Wastes Money on a Poor Investment.  Biomass power plants are extremely expensive to operate and can only survive if they are heavily subsidized - with our clean energy dollars.  This money should be invested in truly clean renewable energy, like wind, solar, and geothermal heat and power. NY, NH, MA, and CT have reduced their subsidies for electricity from wood-burning power plants, or eliminated them altogether. As their “renewable energy” subsidies are declining, Burlington Electric is seeking new ways to prop up their dirty power plant – by selling their steam as “renewable heat” and claiming it is green energy.

WE THE UNDERSIGNED CALL ON the Burlington City Council, UVM Medical Center, The University of Vermont to say “NO” to District Energy.  Burlington ratepayers deserve real climate solutions, NOT more pollution and greenwashing. 

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