Senators to host biomass energy briefing

By Anna Austin | February 09, 2011

U.S. Sens. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., Max Baucus, D-Mont., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., will host a biomass briefing at the Dirksen Senate Office building at 1 p.m. EST on Feb. 17.

The briefing is being held to discuss opportunities presented by biomass energy, including applications for heating and cooling homes and buildings, power generation, and also to dispel some myths about biomass and highlight its potential.

Andrea Colnes of the Biomass Energy Resource Center, Robert Perschel of the Forest Guild, Mike Jostrum of Plum Creek, Steve Walker of New England Wood Pellet, Dennis Becker of the University of Minnesota and Chad Davis of the Sustainable Northwest and Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition will be making presentations at the briefing.

The Northeast Biomass Thermal Working Group, a coalition of biomass thermal advocates, is urging industry members to call their senators and staff and invite them to attend the briefing.

Dan Conable, communications director for the New York Biomass Energy Alliance, a NBTWG member, said biomass sometimes looks like the forgotten renewable to those working in the renewable sector. “It’s remarkable how often our elected leaders talk about reducing dependence on imported oil without mentioning the obvious opportunities offered by bioheat and biopower,” he said.

The Northeast is hugely dependent on imported fossil fuels, Conable said. “In New York, petroleum heats one-third of our homes, and the percentage is even higher in Maine. Biomass can replace a good deal of this fuel, and we already have the technology to do this cleanly and efficiently, at a substantial savings for consumers in terms of dollars per Btu.”

Conable said the briefing is an opportunity to help legislators—particularly those who represent the Northeast—focus on biomass, a practical and affordable means to achieve greater energy independence.