Biomass energy legislation introduced in Okla.
Pending legislation in Oklahoma could result in the development of a state plan to utilize woody biomass for heat and power. The bill, HB 1656, titled the “Oklahoma Woody Biomass Energy Initiative Act of 2013,” was introduced by state Rep. Richard Morrissette in January.
The bill take several actions to support the growth of biomass energy within Oklahoma, including the establishment of an advisory council, referred to as the Woody Biomass Energy Initiative Council. According to the text of the legislation, the council would be comprised members representing a variety of stakeholder groups, including one member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, one member of the Oklahoma State Senate, three members appointed by the executive director Oklahoma Conservation Commission, three members appointed by the head of the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Oklahoma State University, two members involved in the manufacture of biofuel furnaces, a member of the Department of Environmental Quality, an employee of the Forestry Services Division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, a member of the Department of Corrections, a member of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, a member of the Corporation Commission, a member of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, a member representing the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the USDA, a representative of the U.S. EPA, and a representative of the U.S. DOE.
The legislation directs members of the council to develop an Oklahoma Renewable Woody Biomass Energy Usage Plan. The plan would include harvesting and fuel burning guidelines and techniques. It would also include a funding plan for biomass utilization and identify state lands suitable for use in biomass production. The bill directs the council to take into consideration environmental quality and energy standards, as well as identify available grants, private resources and other funding to implement the plan to support the implementation of the Eastern Red Cedar Registry relating to the development of biomass production.
The council would also investigate the feasibility of employing woody biomass furnaces in state correctional facilities, schools and other state agencies. In addition, the council would investigate the feasibility of cogeneration or gasification technologies using woody biomass feedstock. Finally, the council would make recommendations to the legislature and governor’s office.
According to the legislation, the council would also be authorized to apply for funding, including those from state, federal and private sources.