[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 Robert Walton, April 25, 2016, Utility Dive
The Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 was largely free of controversy a pair of holds were removed and an offshore drilling revenue amendment was pulled. But ClimatWire reports two amendments declaring biofuels as a carbon-neutral resource and possibly opening the door to co-fire biomass and coal generation has the potential to undo goodwill created by the bill, which aims to modernize the grid and emphasize efficiency.
According to the carbon-neutral amendment, the Secretary of Agriculture, and the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency must “establish clear and simple policies for the use of forest biomass as an energy solution, including policies that … reflect the carbon-neutrality of forest bioenergy and recognize biomass as a renewable energy source, provided the use of forest biomass for energy production does not cause conversion of forests to non-forest use.”
The inclusion of the amendment was a major win for the industry.
– April 20, 2016, Biomass101
Photo: Oregon Department of Forestry
In recent days, two coalitions of eco-activist groups have sent open letters to members of Congress expressing objections to the Energy Policy and Modernization Act (S. 2012) due to its treatment of biomass energy. The letters have some differences in verbiage and scope, but the signatories are all too familiar, and the scientific distortions are getting pretty old.
Readers who encounter the letters are left to wonder whether they should trust the claims made about biomass—and understandably so. One of the letters sources its “scientific” claims almost entirely to studies authored by one of its own activist signatories. The other letter offers no outside sources of reference at all.
So we thought it would be helpful for readers see the activist claims alongside work from real scientists and forestry experts, to show how much daylight there really is between the spin and the facts on these key energy policy questions.
READ MORE at Biomass101
– by Brittany Patterson, April 21, 2016, E&E
Two amendments tucked inside the bipartisan energy bill that passed the Senate yesterday are elevating the question of whether biomass is a renewable energy source on par with wind and solar in the eyes of federal policy.
Both measures drew ire from environmental groups and praise from the biomass industry. But even with this newfound attention, some industry analysts said biomass policy remains unclear.
“Whatever effect it does have would take a while, but it could force the issue a bit more,” said Jessie Stolark, a policy associate with the nonprofit Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI).
– February 10, 2016, The Ripon Advance
The 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.