ACORE develops unified biomass definition

By Lisa Gibson | October 20, 2011

The 16 different biomass definitions written in current federal legislation, rules and regulations make policy progress difficult for the biomass industry. The American Council on Renewable Energy assembled a Biomass Definition Subcommittee that has crafted a unified biomass definition, which its members will pitch to senators and representatives during the first week of November.

The subcommittee took the 2008 Farm Bill and pulled in as much as possible that it thought was feasible to get through Congress, according to Charles Brettell, subcommittee member and principal of Energy Asset Advisors. Brettell presented the definition at the RETECH conference in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 20.

“It was pretty well received at the RETECH meeting,” he said. “The challenge now is to push that out into the Congress.” During the first week of November, Brettell and others will present the definition to members of Congress who have expressed interest in it. As laid out by the subcommittee, the definition states:

“’Biomass’ is any organic material including:

(a) Materials, pre-commercial thinnings, or invasive species from U.S. Forest Service, National Forest System lands, Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Department of Defense lands or public lands (as defined by federal law) that:

            (i) are byproducts of preventive treatments or removed:

                        (A) to reduce hazardous fuels;

                        (B) to reduce or contain disease or insect infestation; or

                        (C) to restore ecosystem health and resiliency; and

            (ii) are harvested in accordance with applicable forest management laws, rules and regulations, and

(b) From private land, non-Federal land or land belonging to a Native American or Native Tribe that is held in trust by the United States or subject to a restriction against alienation imposed by the United States, including:

            (i) residual materials, including

                        (A) crop residue;

                        (B) other vegetative materials and oils (including wood waste and wood residues);

                        (C) animal waste, bedding materials, and byproducts (including fats, oils, greases, and manure); and

                        (D) the biogenic fraction of municipal materials including all residuals segregated, after reasonably practicable efforts, from waste material, food waste, yard waste, and waste water treatment plant biosolids; or

            (ii) plant materials, including

                        (A) grains;

                        (B) other agricultural products;

                        (C) trees harvested in accordance with applicable forest management laws, rules and regulations;

                        (D) other plants; and

                        (E) algae, aquatic plants and byproducts (including oils).”

            “We’re hopeful that as that progresses and the biomass caucus blossoms, and people begin to understand the need for baseload renewable power and fuel optionality that’s more domestic, they’ll begin to look on biomass more favorably and hopefully this is the cornerstone of that larger push,” Brettel said.