– July 16, 2016, BTEC
On July 14, the House of Representatives passed, on a vote of 231 to 196, the FY17 Interior Appropriations Bill (HR 5538). As we have noted, the measure includes language preventing EPA or other federal departments or agencies from regulating CO2 emissions from forest bioenergy. If enacted, the provision would essentially remove the barriers embedded in the Clean Power Plan for states to use biomass as a compliance pathway. Although 179 amendments were offered on the bill during floor consideration, there was no amendment to strike the “carbon neutrality of forest biomass” provision and the bill passed with that language intact.
Last week, the Senate voted 84-3 to proceed to a conference committee on negotiating energy bills that both chambers passed this spring. The Senate conferees are: Senators Murkowski (R-AK), Barrasso (R-WY), Risch (R-ID), Cornyn (R-TX), Cantwell (D-WA), Wyden (D-OR), and Sanders (I-VT). Congressional staff will be working over the August recess to resolve differences between the House-passed and Senate-passed bills. The goal is to have a compromise package prepared before the November election, but the reality is that timeline may slip into later November or December.
READ MORE at BTEC
[Read the opposing view to this opinion piece, “Renewability: Biomass Energy Not Renewable,” by Christopher Ahlers.]
– by Roger A. Sedjo, Senior Fellow, Resources for the Future & Stephen Shaler, Director, School of Forest Resources, University of Maine
In a rare moment of bipartisan cooperation, the Senate just passed a far-ranging energy bill. Critics have quickly homed in on a unanimously adopted amendment recognizing the renewability and carbon benefits of biomass energy derived from wood and plant material. That designation puts biomass in the same category as wind, solar, and other renewables in the eyes of federal officials.
Critics claim lawmakers have gotten out in front of the science and that there’s not enough evidence to definitively prove biomass’s environmental benefits. They’re wrong. Science recognizes biomass is a well-established way to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. Supporting biomass energy provides one more important strategy for fighting global climate change.
The Senate should be applauded. And the final compromise legislation with the House should preserve these amendments.
– by Editorial Board, April 28, 2016, Washington Post
Photo: Washington Post
Senators patted themselves on the back last week after passing a wide-ranging energy bill, a feat that seems amazing given the partisanship on Capitol Hill and the deep divisions between the parties on fossil fuels in particular. But the hype was too good to be true: The bill has at least one glaring flaw that must be changed before President Obama considers signing it.
There is a lot to like in the bill and the process that led to its passage. Lawmakers put aside major points of contention and moved forward with items they could agree on — or at least live with. The bill authorizes hefty increases in the energy research budget. It includes programs to make buildings more energy-efficient. It would harden the electrical system against cyberattacks and make the grid more capable of taking on new sources of renewable power. The bill would also speed approvals of natural gas export facilities, which will not please some environmentalists but is nevertheless a net positive step. In return, the bill gives environmentalists a permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which directs federal oil and gas royalties toward preserving natural landscapes.