Engaging Communities Nationwide with Bioenergy
Oct. 22 marked the second annual National Bioenergy Day. What started as a grassroots effort to help bioenergy organizations engage better with their communities is becoming a widespread recognition of the benefits of the many types of bioenergy.
The first National Bioenergy Day was held last October 2013 and included 25 events in 13 states. We didn't know what to expect while organizing events, but were pleased to see an enthusiastic response from not only Biomass Power Association members, but also companies, universities and other organizations representing the many corners of the sector.
This year’s event exceeded our expectations, again. We counted nearly 50 events in 22 states and Canada, each highlighting a unique aspect of bioenergy in a specific area of North America.
We have a lot of people and groups to thank for this increase. First among them is the U.S. Forest Service, which contributed funding and organizational support that helped us spread the word and encourage participation far beyond what we were able to accomplish last year. The USDA, which oversees the U.S. Forest Service, truly acknowledges the role of bioenergy in keeping forests healthy and reducing the risk for catastrophic fires in unmanaged forests that we have seen in recent years.
The USFS’s talented and enterprising staff ensured that we were able to build a website, www.bioenergyday.org. The site provides basic information about the various types of bioenergy and ties together all the events that occurred on Oct. 22, and features a video about a USFS partnership with a biomass facility in Colorado that is making an undeniably positive impact on the White River National Forest.
We also appreciated enthusiastic support from several other sponsors, including Plum Creek, Pellet Fuels Institute, Biomass Thermal Energy Council, U.S. Industrial Pellet Association and, of course, Biomass Magazine.
As a testament to all the hard work that went into planning National Bioenergy Day activities, the overall turnout was impressive. Thousands of people were exposed to or reminded of the benefits of bioenergy, many of them gaining a better understanding of the benefits provided by their local facilities. There were facility tours, webinars, pyrolysis demonstrations, seminars, retailer discounts and panel discussions. There was even a Mayoral Proclamation from Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. Many of these events featured close cooperation among local government officials and multiple local bioenergy groups.
We are grateful for the support for National Bioenergy Day 2014 from everyone who hosted an event or participated in any way. We look forward to continuing this annual event. It’s important for us to rally together to dispel the many myths about bioenergy that persist, and also to demonstrate the considerable positive effects of bioenergy on the environment and local economies.
Author: Bob Cleaves
President and CEO, Biomass Power Association