Wanted by EPA: Scientists for controversial climate mission

Accounting for the climate change impacts of biomass energy remains an emerging science, one that wades into whether a renewable energy source is always an environmentally friendly one too.

A key question is how to track carbon released from land-use changes related to harvesting plant matter.

So, the solicitation to be released Wednesday says the science advisers want experts who can address topics such as “Forestry, agriculture, and land-use change, specifically the effects of land management practices on the terrestrial biosphere,” and “Land use economics, ecological relationships between land use and climate change and/or estimates of biomass supply and demand.”

EPA's view is that biomass energy is green energy — if done right. Administrator Lisa Jackson, when announcing the permitting delay in January, said, “Renewable, homegrown power sources are essential to our energy future, and an important step to cutting the pollution responsible for climate change.”

But the agency also noted at the time that burning some types of biomass “may result in a net increase in CO2 emissions.”

EPA has come under heavy pressure from the forest industry and some Capitol Hill lawmakers fearful that applying emissions rules to biomass would stymie the market for the energy source.