Biomass Industry Zeros in on Washington

As the government prepares to make cuts to try to balance the budget, the renewable industry needs to make sure its message is heard in D.C.
By Rona Johnson | August 26, 2011

As the government prepares to make cuts to try to balance the budget, the renewable industry needs to make sure its message is heard in D.C.

It’s important that proponents of biomass power and thermal be in Washington to educate lawmakers about the benefits of renewable energy because those representing the interests of the fossil fuel industry will be there.

That makes the timing of the Pellet Fuels Institute’s Washington, D.C., fly-in perfect, as is the development of the Congressional Biomass Caucus.

 PFI is hosting a fly-in the week of Oct. 3 for members who want to share their experiences and concerns about the pellet industry with their representatives on Capitol Hill.

This is a great opportunity for the industry to tout its job creation benefits and to explain how pellet fuels can displace heating oil and lessen our dependence on foreign oil, thus reducing the amount of money we spend.

I hope that they get a large contingency to participate. If you would like more information, or if you are interested in taking part in the fly-in, contact Ryan Carroll at

Speaking of Washington, the Congressional Biomass Caucus has picked up some new representatives. So far, the list includes Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., Aaron Schock, R-Ill., William Owens, D-N.Y., Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., Bill Cassidy, R-La., Russ Carnahan, D-Miss., Wally Herger, R-Calif., Mike Michaud, D-Maine, Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., as well as its creators and co-chairs Rep. Charlie Bass, R-N.H., and Peter Welch, D-Vt.

If your representatives aren’t on this list, I suggest you contact them and urge them to join the caucus. The Biomass Thermal Energy Council has prepared instructions for contacting members of Congress, if you’ve never done so before. The instructions can be found by clicking here.

BCAP Update

The deadline to sign up to participate as a project area in the Biomass Crop Assistance Program is Sept. 16. The BCAP provides eligible farmers and landowners with reimbursements of up to 75 percent of the establishment costs of perennial energy crops, up to five years of annual rental payments for herbaceous crops and up to 15 years for woody crops.

The current project areas, according to USDA’s Farm Service Agency are: 

Project Area 1 (Show Me Energy Cooperative, Centerview, Mo.) up to 50,000 acres of perennial native grasses and forbs, such as switchgrass, big bluestem, Illinois bundleflower and purple prairie clover, in addition to existing suitable stands of native grasses, legumes and forbs in:

  • Missouri (Barton, Bates, Benton, Boone, Buchanan, Caldwell, Callaway, Cass, Carroll, Chariton, Clay, Clinton, Cooper, Daviess, Harrison, Henry, Howard, Jackson, Johnson, Lafayette, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Morgan, Pettis, Platte, Ray, Saint Clair, Saline and Vernon)
  • Kansas (Atchison, Douglas, Franklin, Johnson, Jefferson, Leavenworth, Linn, Miami and Wyandotte)

Project Area 2 (MFA Oil Biomass LLC, Paragould, Ark.) up to 5,588 acres of giant miscanthus in:

  • Arkansas (Clay, Craighead, Greene, Jackson, Lawrence, Mississippi, Poinsett, and Randolph)

Project Area 3 (MFA Oil Biomass LLC, Columbia, Mo.) up to 3,000 acres of giant miscanthus in:

  • Missouri (Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Howard, Moniteau, Monroe, and Randolph)

Project Area 4 (MFA Oil Biomass LLC, Aurora, Mo.) up to 5,250 acres of giant miscanthus in:

  • Missouri (Barry, Christian, Dade, Jasper, Lawrence, Newton and Stone)

Project Area 5 (Aloterra Energy LLC, Ashtabula, Ohio) up to 5,344 acres of giant miscanthus in:

  • Ohio (Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull)
  • Pennsylvania (Crawford, Erie, Mercer)

Project Area 6 (Beaver Biodiesel LLC, Albany, Ore.) up to 1,000 acres of camelina in:

  • Oregon (Jefferson, Klamath, Umatilla, Union and Wasco counties)
  • Washington (Whitman County)

Project Area 7 (Abengoa Bioenergy LLC, Hugonot, Kan.) up to 20,000 of perennial native grasses and forbs, such as switchgrass in:

  • Kansas (Grant, Haskell, Morton, Seward, and Stevens counties)
  • Oklahoma (Texas County)

Project Area 8 (Altair Fuels LLC, Bakersfield, Calif. and Tacoma, Wash.) up to a total of 50,000 acres of camelina, distributed as follows in:

  • California (Butte, Colusa, Fresno, Glenn, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, Riverside, Sacramento, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Solano, Stanislaus, Tehama, Tulare, and Yolo counties) up to 25,000 acres
  • Montana (all 56 counties) up to 15,000 acres
  • Washington (Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Columbia, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Okanogan, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla and Whitman counties) up to 10,000 acres

Project Area 9 (ZeaChem, Inc., Boardman, Ore.) up to 7,002 acres of hybrid poplar in:

  • Oregon (Morrow County)

Producers interested in participating in the project areas should visit their local FSA county office. Information about BCAP may be found at