Putting Biomass Thermal on the Front Burner in DC

By Stephen Gunther and Ellen Abramowitz | November 01, 2011

In recent months, renewable energy and energy investment have reemerged in the policy debate in Washington, D.C. Both Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., voiced their intentions in early October to address how the government should invest in energy. While Bingaman plans to hold a hearing on U.S. investments in clean energy in the coming weeks, Alexander intends to scrutinize permanent energy subsidies and focus investments in  research for solar technologies, batteries, green buildings, carbon capture and storage, fusion, nuclear energy and biofuels. Once again, the importance of renewable thermal energy, specifically biomass, appears overlooked in the energy debate. 

To raise awareness on Capitol Hill of the importance of biomass thermal energy, the Biomass Thermal Energy Council and numerous renewable energy and environmental groups such as the Biomass Coordinating Council and the Pellet Fuels Institute are hosting a Biomass Thermal DC Summit on Nov. 16. This unprecedented event will unite the nation’s biomass thermal businesses and educate policy makers about the considerable potential of biomass thermal energy in meeting America’s growing demand for clean, reliable and domestic energy sources.

The summit seeks to build upon the progress of numerous nonprofit organizations, community members, and businesses, in promoting biomass thermal energy. Nearly 20 biomass thermal-related groups and associations have already indicated their support for the summit, and the list continues to grow. As part of the summit, these organizations and their member companies will engage policy makers and demonstrate industry support for upcoming key legislative issues, such as energy provisions in the 2012 Farm Bill. Also, the summit will present the perfect venue for businesses and individuals to nurture or develop relationships with their members of Congress.

Strengthening relationships with one’s senators and representatives is especially important given the opportunity to grow the newly formed Congressional Biomass Caucus. It was only five months ago, that supporters of biomass thermal energy witnessed this significant accomplishment. The Congressional Biomass Caucus was founded to support the development of biomass and elevate this effectively forgotten renewable resource’s profile in Congress. As of mid-October, the caucus roster stood at 13, and the upcoming summit will help to grow support and membership. Strong constituent-to-representative relationships and direct appeals are two of the most effective methods for increasing the size of the caucus and influence; the summit will facilitate both.

Aside from displaying broad industry support, the summit will host several networking and informational activities for attendees, including a morning orientation on constituent-to-Congress communication “best practices,” a public biomass briefing with industry experts, and coordinated congressional  and federal agency outreach. The summit will conclude with an evening congressional reception.

It is BTEC and the participating groups’ goal that the summit will serve as a milestone for our often federally neglected industry. On Nov. 16, we will again place biomass thermal energy on our political leaders’ “front burners.” Your support and attendance will make our coalition even more effective. If you’re interested in joining us in Washington, D.C., visit http://biomassthermal.org/events/thermalsummit.asp for additional information.  For other inquiries on the summit, its activities, and potential event sponsorship, contact Stephen Gunther, BTEC policy and governmental affairs fellow, at Stephen.gunther@biomassthermal.org.

Author: Stephen Gunther
Policy and Governmental Affairs Fellow
Ellen Abramowitz
Education and Outreach Fellow
Biomass Thermal Energy Council