Senate Approves “Carbon Neutral” Bioenergy Amendment to Energy Bill

– February 10, 2016, The Ripon Advance

timthumb.phpThe Senate recently approved a bipartisan measure authored by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) that would require federal agencies to draft policies supporting the use of forest bioenergy.

The amendment to the Energy Policy Modernization Act, S. 2102, would direct federal agencies to adopt policies that support converting forest biomass into renewable energy. Forest biomass refers to tree trunks, leaves, roots, branches and needles, and other organic materials found in forests.

“Biomass energy is sustainable, responsible, renewable and economically significant as an energy source, and many states, including Maine, are already relying on biomass to meet their renewable energy goals,” Collins said. “While the carbon neutrality of biomass harvested from sustainably managed forests has been recognized repeatedly by numerous studies, agencies, institutions and rules around the world, current policy uncertainty could end up jeopardizing rather than encouraging investments in working forests, harvesting operations, bioenergy, wood products and paper manufacturing.”

The amendment would require the secretary of energy, secretary of agriculture and EPA administrator to develop consistent federal policies that promote the use of forest bioenergy.

In June, Collins drafted letters to the Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture and the EPA that called for clear federal policy on forest bioenergy. Forty-six senators signed onto the letter.

Industry groups like the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) and the American Forest & Paper Association have supported the amendment as well.

“This amendment reflects the bipartisan support of 46 Senators who joined a June 2015 letter to the administration affirming the carbon neutrality of forest biomass,” Dave Tenney, president and CEO of NAFO, said. “It will help drive a consistent federal policy across all departments and agencies based on well-established science and agency expertise.”

Sens. Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Al Franken (D-MN), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mike Crapo (R-ID) and James Risch (R-ID) are co-sponsors of the amendment.


  • It’s so Orwellian. Carbon-emitting is carbon neutral. Clear-cutting is sustainable. Particulate-spewing incinerators are responsible. Plants that are too expensive to run are economically significant… I despair, truly.


    • Biomass energy has its pros and cons. The only way we can decide if an energy source is worthwhile is if we weight the benefits against the drawbacks. But when we can’t even be transparent about the drawbacks, it’s impossible to determine whether something is worthwhile.


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