A Boston Globe reporter wrote an article that gets many things wrong about modern wood heat. Our Vice President, Joe Short, responds on twitter.Joe Twitter

1. This article is full of statements that are simply not true. Hard to twitter-speak on such a complicated topic, but here goes (THREAD):
@davabel Burning trees for fuel may soon qualify for state subsidies via @BostonGlobe

2. Key context: incentives under consideration are thermal credits under MA Alternative Portfolio Standard; wood heat, not wood electric.

3. Distinction matters because critics quoted in the article cite studies on wood electric and imply the conclusions apply to wood thermal as well. Not true.

4. In fact, they ignore positive findings for wood thermal in the very same study on wood electric they use to inaccurately attack wood thermal. They didn’t mention that the cited @ManometCenter study says: “switch to biomass yields [GHG]benefits within 1st decade when oil-fired thermal is replaced.”

5. Similar misdirection regarding air quality, implying that incentives would lead to “soot.” NO. $ only for high efficiency, low emissions tech.

By: Rob Riley

To some, “rural” is an abstract notion, sometimes conjuring images of farms, forests, or mountains, but less often bringing to mind the people who live in rural places. Even less do we consider the ways that rural life has shaped our nation.

In the Northern Forest for instance — 30 million acres spanning northern Maine through northern New York — people living in rural communities within this vast forest forged new industries and drove commerce by sawing lumber and making paper, generating electricity from racing rivers, and farming rugged land to feed people in growing cities.

Their hard work helped to accelerate the country into prosperity while earning good livings for their families. But nothing is static. Economies and trade evolve. Climate changes. Land and industry ownership change. Politics change. And as a result, people and communities change. And the change can be devastating.

When economies and communities begin to fail, people and the landscape pay the price.  The assets that had once been the source of prosperity begin to fall in to disrepair. That is when communities face change on a grand scale.

You can watch the panel discussion I was part of at the Aspen Ideas Festival:


Last week, President Trump presented a budget blueprint that decimates programs critical to rural communities. This “skinny budget” was “dropped” (as they say in DC) while I was in Washington, DC, attending two events that showcased just how important these programs can be.

The first event was an Aspen Institute Summit on Inequality and Opportunity, which was designed to identify the structural challenges for marginalized people in the U.S. and highlight innovative (and inspiring) approaches to tackling these problems. The second was the America’s Rural Opportunity series where the Center, the Aspen Institute and the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities highlighted innovation and opportunity in rural places.

In both events, stories of entrepreneurial and community success highlighted individual initiative, grit and persistence in the face of innumerable obstacles. Speakers reflected on the non-linear path to success and the “instability factor”– the feeling of being always on the edge of not making it– and how, if not for unique partnerships, a little capital, a bit of support by others, they might have given up. And if they had given up, in one example, it would have meant that 20 new jobs would NOT have been created in a family-owned restaurant in rural Texas. The speakers shared inspiring stories and, when asked about the president’s budget, were clear in their dismay.

The election highlighted deep divisions in this country, breaking down according to where one lives, what one looks like, how one sees his or her current job prospects, or preferences for what the country’s role is around the globe, and more.

Real and perceived lack of economic opportunity seemed to drive many voting decisions.  Places where former manufacturing hubs and resource-based economies once ruled are now in the midst of a lengthy decline. The potential of change reigned in these places.

What wasn’t mentioned in the post-election commentary is that rural places have the ideas and the potential to transform themselves, as long as they have the right resources and an innovative approach.

On the federal level, we look toward how the new administration will prioritize the concerns of people in the Northern Forest. For years, we’ve enjoyed strong relationships with agencies such as the Department of Agriculture-Rural Development and the Forest Service, Economic Development Administration, and more.  So now what?