Cochran, Wicker Back Biomass Energy, Urge Agencies to Remove Uncertainties

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U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi) and Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) are urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Department of Energy (DOE) to recognize and support biomass energy as a sustainable and economically significant energy source.

Cochran and Wicker were joined by a bipartisan group of 44 senators in sending the letter.

Cochran, who promoted biofuel provisions in the 2014 farm bill, said, ““Wood-based bioenergy offers great potential for improving national energy security and job creation and should be a more important part of America’s comprehensive energy plan. Federal agencies need to remove regulatory barriers that hinder forest biofuel production, which could be more widespread throughout the Southern states.”

“Biomass could have an enormous impact on our nation’s energy capabilities, job creation, and economic growth,” Wicker said. “Cutting red tape is an important step as we work to unlock forest bioenergy as a realistic, renewable energy source.”

The letter – led by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) – highlights the importance of forest bioenergy and encourages the agencies to ensure that federal policies are consistent and reflect the carbon neutrality of biomass derived from residuals of forest products in manufacturing and agriculture.

Here is an excerpt from the letter mailed yesterday:

Dear Administrator McCarthy, Secretary Moniz, and Secretary Vilsack:

We write to support biomass energy as a sustainable, responsible, renewable, and economically significant energy source. Federal policies across all departments and agencies must remove any uncertainties and contradictions through a clear, unambiguous message that forest bioenergy is part of the nation’s energy future.

Many states are relying on renewable biomass to meet their energy goals, and we support renewable biomass to create jobs and economic growth while meeting our nation’s energy needs. A comprehensive science, technical, and legal administrative record supports a clear and simple policy establishing the benefits of energy from forest biomass. Federal policies that add unnecessary costs and complexity will discourage rather than encourage investment in working forests, harvesting operations, bioenergy, wood products, and paper manufacturing. Unclear or contradictory signals from federal agencies could discourage biomass utilization as an energy solution.

The carbon neutrality of forest biomass has been recognized repeatedly by numerous studies, agencies, institutions, legislation, and rules around the world, and there has been no dispute about the carbon neutrality of biomass derived from residuals of forest products manufacturing and agriculture. Our constituents employed in the biomass supply chain deserve a federal policy that recognizes the clear benefits of forest bioenergy. We urge you to ensure that federal policies are consistent and reflect the carbon neutrality of forest bioenergy.

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