Letter urges recognition of the carbon neutrality of bioenergy

By Erin Voegele | August 04, 2015

On July 31, 154 members of the U.S. House of Representatives issued a letter to the USDA, U.S. Department of Energy, and U.S. EPA urging the recognition of carbon neutrality of biomass energy.

“We write to support biomass energy as a sustainable, responsible, renewable, and economically significant energy source,” said the representatives in the letter. “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.”

The letter notes that many states rely on biomass to meet their energy goals, and that bioenergy helps create jobs and economic growth. “A comprehensive science, technical, and legal administrative record supports a clear and simple policy establishing the benefits of energy from forest biomass,” states the letter. “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.”

According to the representatives, numerous studies, agencies, institutions, legislation and rules around the world have repeatedly recognized the carbon neutrality of biomass. In addition, the representatives indicate that there has been no dispute about the carbon neutrality of biomass derived from residuals of forest products manufacturing and agriculture. “Our constituents in employed in the biomass supply chain deserve a federal policy that recognizes the clear benefits of forest bioenergy,” said the representatives in the letter. “We urge you to ensure that federal policies are consistent and reflect the carbon neutrality of these types of bioenergy.

The American Wood Council has spoken out in support of the letter and its statements. “The carbon life cycle of wood products is well known and recognized,” said Robert Glowinski, president and CEO of the AWC. “Our industry produces almost 80 percent of its own energy through the use of biomass residuals, displacing the need for fossil fuel use. These congressmen and women have now joined senators and scientists in supporting the use of biomass energy from manufacturing residuals as being fully sustainable. It is important for both our industry and national energy policy that the federal government clearly recognizes the carbon neutrality of biomass energy derived from sustainable forestry and our industry’s manufacturing residuals.”

A full copy of the letter can be downloaded from the AWC website. http://awc.org/docs/default-source/letters/house-letter-on-carbon-neutrality-of-forest-biomass.pdf