Bipartisan Energy Bill Passes Senate with Senator Collins' Biomass Amendment

Senator Collins’ amendment, cosponsored by Senator King, would help ensure that federal policies for the use of clean, renewable energy solutions are clear and simple

Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins’ tripartisan biomass amendment, cosponsored by Senator Angus King, has been included in the final Energy Policy Modernization Act that passed the Senate 85 to 12 today.

This amendment echoes the principles outlined in a June 2015 bipartisan letter Senator Collins sent to the Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Agriculture, which was signed by 46 Senators. The amendment is supported by the National Alliance of Forest Owners, the American Forest and Paper Association, the Biomass Power Association, and the American Wood Council.

In March 2016, more than 100 nationally recognized forest scientists, representing 80 universities, wrote to EPA stating the long-term carbon benefits of forest bioenergy. This group weighed a comprehensive synthesis of the best peer-reviewed science and affirmed the carbon benefits of biomass.

“Biomass energy is sustainable, responsible, renewable, and economically significant as an energy source and many states, including Maine, are already relying on biomass to meet their renewable energy goals,” said Senator Susan Collins. “While the carbon neutrality of biomass harvested from sustainably managed forests has been recognized repeatedly by numerous studies, agencies, institutions, and rules around the world, current policy uncertainty could end up jeopardizing rather than encouraging investments in working forests, harvesting operations, bioenergy, wood products, and paper manufacturing. Our tripartisan provision would help ensure that federal policies for the use of clean, renewable energy solutions are clear, simple, and consistently inclusive of renewable biomass energy.”

“Not only is forest biomass a home-grown and environmentally-responsible source of energy, but it can also be a significant boon to rural economies in Maine and across the country,” Senator King said. “That's why it's time that the federal government recognizes the environmental and economic benefits of this renewable resource. By requiring every federal department to be on the same page when it comes to biomass policy, our amendment will ensure that biomass will play an important role in shaping a clean and affordable energy future for America.”

"Forest owners deeply appreciate the leadership of Senators Collins, King and Klobuchar, to emphasize the carbon benefits of biomass energy as part of our nation's renewable energy solution," said Dave Tenny, NAFO President and CEO. "This amendment reflects the bipartisan support of 46 Senators who joined a June 2015 letter to the Administration affirming the carbon neutrality of forest biomass.  It will help drive a consistent federal policy across all departments and agencies based on well-established science and agency expertise."

“The amendment offered by Sens. Collins, King and Klobuchar provides valuable direction to federal agencies to produce clear, science-based policies that recognize the carbon benefits of biomass as a renewable energy source,” said American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) President and CEO Donna Harman. “AF&PA has long advocated for federal policies to recognize the carbon neutrality of the bioenergy produced and used by paper and wood products manufacturers. We applaud the Senators for their efforts with this important amendment.”

Specifically, the amendment would require the Secretary of Energy, the Secretary of Agriculture, and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to jointly ensure that federal policy relating to forest bioenergy is consistent across all departments and agencies and that the full benefits of forest biomass for energy, conservation, and responsible forest management are recognized.  The amendment would also direct these federal agencies to establish clear and simple policies for the utilization of biomass as an energy solution. 

These include policies that:

  • Reflect the carbon neutrality of forest bioenergy;
  • Recognize biomass as a renewable energy source;
  • Encourage private investment throughout the biomass supply chain;
  • Encourage forest management to improve forest health;
  • And recognize state initiatives to use biomass.

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Al Franken (D-MN), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and James Risch (R-ID) cosponsored the amendment.