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Published January 14, 2011, 10:25 AM

EPA ruling could help fledging biomass industry

DULUTH, Minn. — Supporters say a ruling from the Environmental Protection Agency could help development of the biomass energy industry in northeastern Minnesota.

DULUTH, Minn. — Supporters say a ruling from the Environmental Protection Agency could help development of the biomass energy industry in northeastern Minnesota.

The EPA this week agreed to give the biomass industry a three-year exemption from regulations on carbon dioxide emissions at power plants. Biomass energy from wood and waste could be a boon for the Northland’s forest. But until this week, the EPA was expected to treat biomass the same as other energy sources, which require permits and regulation on carbon emissions.

Biomass supporters say its “carbon neutral” because emissions from burning wood are eventually absorbed by more trees.

Duluth Mayor Don Ness tells the Duluth News Tribune the biomass industry holds “great promise” for the region. Biomass wood burning plants are located in Virginia and Hibbing.

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