The National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) today urged the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to include a definition of biomass in clean energy legislation that will promote rather than discourage the use of biomass to meet America’s renewable energy goals. NAFOprovided written testimony for the Committee’s hearing on S. 2146, the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012, which would create a federal mandate for sources of clean energy beginning in 2015 with a 24 percent share of total energy production and increasing to 82 percent in 2035.
“Forest biomass has been recognized by the President asa key part of an ‘all of the above’ solution to our nation’s energy needs,” said Dave Tenny, President and CEO of NAFO. “Unfortunately, this bill discourages the use of forest biomass in direct contradiction to that approach. By excluding forest biomass from the definition of ‘Renewable Energy’ and inserting legally complicated requirements, the bill creates uncertainties that will discourage forest biomass use by making compliance too expensive and vulnerable to lawsuits”
The bill defines “Qualified Renewable Biomass,” using terms and criteria from national forest management that have been the source of protracted litigation for decades. The new definition would overlay the existing framework of well–established federal, state and local laws, which currently govern private forest practices.
The bill further requires that qualified biomass be assigned a “carbon intensity factor,” ignoring the long-standing international recognition of sustainable biomass combustion in place of fossil fuel combustion as beneficial for the climate.
“We have seen how the complicated approach taken in this bill has worked on federal lands, and we can’t afford to introduce the same legal gridlock on private lands,” Tenny said. “Furthermore, requiring new carbon regulations for biomass similar to approaches for fossil fuels casts biomass as though it were part of the problem rather than the solution. Any way you look at it, the bill writes forest biomass out of the clean energy equation.”
Tenny concluded: “To achieve the goals of the President and the many in Congress who recognize the important contributions of biomass energy, this legislation must be written to invite rather than discourage forest biomass as a renewable energy source. Otherwise it will continue or increase the use of fossil fuels in many parts of the country, and that is not progress toward sound, clean energy policy.”
NAFO is an organization of private forest owners committed to advancing federal policies that promote the economic and environmental benefits of privately-owned forests at the national level.NAFO membership encompasses more than 79 million acres of private forestland in 47 states. Working forests in the U.S. support 2.5 million jobs. To see the full economic impact of America’s working forests, visit online.