Forestry BioMass Poised for Growth in US Energy Sector

The US House and Senate passed a $1 trillion Omnibus spending bill recently deeming forest bioenergy as carbon neutral by the American federal government. As stated in the Biomass magazine article “Omnibus bill policy rider deems forest bioenergy carbon neutral” by Anna Simet. (1)

The 1665 page bill provides discretionary funding for the federal government for the 2017 fiscal year. Section 428 of the bill directs three significant organisations: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), US Department of Agriculture and the US Department of Energy to integrate their policies on woody biomass.

The objective of this is to primarily bring to light the benefits of the use of forest biomass for energy conservation and responsible forest management. The three agencies have been mandated to create a policy for forest biomass as an energy solution. Additionally, it directs the three agencies to “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.” (2)

In 2015, Canada produced 1.9% of its energy with biomass (3). Canada is covered by approximately 347 million hectares of forest which represents 9% of the global forest coverage (4).  With such an abundant supply of bioenergy feedstock, Canada has an opportunity to develop policies that recognise the economic benefits of biomass energy from forestry residuals. The Canadian Council of Forest Ministers recently issued “A Forest BioEconomy Framework for Canada”, and, industry, Government, and academic stakeholders from across Canada gather in Winnipeg this week to discuss Canada’s vision for a low carbon energy future with the support of our renewable and sustainable forest sector. It appears there is movement and possibly momentum in this direction. Fitting, as our neighbours to the south, have come to recognize and institutionalize this biomass value and potential.

Sources:

  1. Omnibus bill policy rider deems forest bioenergy carbon neutral- http://biomassmagazine.com/articles/14343/omnibus-bill-policy-rid er-deems-forest-bioenergy-carbon-neutral
  2. Biomass Provision in Bipartisan Energy Bill Touches Environmental Flash Point http://www.eesi.org/articles/view/biomass-provision-in-bi-partisan-energy-bill-touches-environmental-flash-po
  3. Canada’s Adoption of Renewable Power Sources – Energy Market Analysis- Biomass – https://www.neb-one.gc.ca/nrg/sttstc/lctrct/rprt/2017cnddptnrnwblpwr/bmss-eng.html
  4. How much forest does Canada have? – http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/forests/report/area/17601

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