Bill would create legal certainty to encourage the sustainable harvest of biomass to produce renewable fuel from Maine forests
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), a member of the Senate Working Forests Caucus, and Angus King (I-ME), a cofounder of the Senate Working Forests Caucus, joined a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing legislation to help expand the use of renewable wood energy. The bill would allow the use of biomass from certain federal and non-federal lands to promote healthier forests, more carbon sequestration, and cleaner transportation fuels.
“Biomass is sustainable, responsible, renewable, and economically significant as an energy source,” said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement. “By clarifying the definition of biomass that qualifies under the Renewable Fuel Standard, our commonsense legislation will help encourage the use of environmentally friendly biomass and create new markets and good-paying jobs in Maine’s forest products industry.”
“The utilization of wood to produce transportation and heating fuels as a replacement for fossil fuels should be one of this nation’s greatest priorities. Wood is affordable, renewable and environmentally friendly and could have a greater economic impact than any other energy source produced globally,” said Dana Doran, Executive Director of the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine. “Senators Collins and King should be applauded for the introduction of this legislation which will ensure that federal policy has the greatest benefit for the greatest good and will ensure that Maine’s professional loggers and truckers have an opportunity to produce a product that is critical to our energy independence.”
“Replacing fossil fuels with renewable, sustainable biofuel made from Maine wood is important to our environment and an important component of a strong future for a Maine forest economy built on innovation. Nurturing this opportunity in Maine by changing outmoded federal policy in order to place Maine’s naturally regenerating forests on equal footing for renewable fuel standards with timber plantations and industrial crops from other regions of the US, is a no-brainer. The Forest Opportunity Roadmap for Maine (FOR/Maine) brought together the forest products industry, research institutions, and community leaders around a vision for significant future growth, but also on pursuing the next generation of innovative wood-based products in biofuels, bioplastics, and sustainable wood building materials. Senators Collins and King fought for the development of the Roadmap and we appreciate their commitment to make Maine a leader in the renewable bioeconomy in order to bring jobs to rural Maine,” said Yellow Light Breen, President and CEO of Maine Development Foundation.
“This legislation recognizes the enormous opportunity Maine has to become a leader in wood-based biofuels, building upon the state’s long history of innovative forest industries. By co-sponsoring this bill, Senators Collins and King are positioning Maine’s forests and rural communities as key players in our sustainable future,” said Eric Kingsley, Vice President and Partner of Innovative Natural Resource Solutions LLC in Portland, Maine.
In addition to Senators Collins and King, the legislation was also introduced by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jim Risch (R-ID), and Mike Crapo (R-ID).
Current law does not allow the use of federal and non-federal biomass in the making of renewable fuels as defined by the Renewable Fuel Standard. This bipartisan bill would eliminate that exclusion and:
· Make it financially feasible for private landowners to remove low-value brush that impacts wildlife habitats and poses fire risks;
· Ensure that all mill residuals—like sawdust and shavings—can be used for biofuels;
· Help fund projects to reduce dead and dying trees that fuel catastrophic wildfires and to thin out unhealthy second-growth forests;
· Require biomass materials harvested from federal lands to be done so in accordance with all federal laws, regulations, and land-use plans and designations; and
· Explicitly restrict the types of biomass materials that can be harvested from federal lands so that old growth trees and stands are protected.
Click HERE for text of the bill.