Senator Collins Urges Colleagues to Support Tripartisan Biomass Amendment

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

Click HERE to watch Senator Collins' floor statement
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Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) spoke from the Senate floor today to urge support for her tri-partisan amendment to the Energy Policy Modernization Act that would support the key role that the forests can play in helping to meet our nation’s energy needs. 

“Biomass energy is sustainable, responsible, renewable, and economically significant as an energy source,” said Senator Collins from the Senate Floor.  “Federal policies across all departments and agencies must remove any uncertainties and contradictions through a clear policy that forest bioenergy is part—an essential part—of our nation’s energy future.”

“With these goals in mind, I have offered a very straightforward amendment—with a group of colleagues that span the ideological spectrum,” Senator Collins continued from the Senate floor. “Our tripartisan amendment would help ensure that federal policies for the use of clean, renewable energy solutions are clear and simple.”

Specifically, Senator Collins’ 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 Collins’ amendment echoes the principles outlined in a June 2015 letter Senator Collins sent to the Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Agriculture, which was signed by 46 Senators. 

Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Angus King (I-ME) are the lead cosponsors of this amendment. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Al Franken (D-MN), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and James Risch (R-ID) are cosponsors of the amendment.

 

 

See below for a copy of Senator Collins remarks as prepared for delivery:

 

Mr. President.  I rise to speak on an amendment I introduced last week, amendment number 3140, which is a tripartisan amendment to the Energy Policy Modernization Act, which is the pending legislation.  I introduced the amendment last week with Senators Klobuchar and King as my lead cosponsors.  Our amendment would support the key role that the forests of this country can play in helping to meet our nation’s energy needs. 

The carbon benefits of forest biomass are clearly established, yet current policy uncertainty could end up jeopardizing rather than encouraging investments in working forests, harvesting operations, bioenergy, wood products, and paper manufacturing.

Biomass energy is sustainable, responsible, renewable, and economically significant as an energy source.  Many states are already relying on biomass to meet their renewable energy goals.  There is a great deal of support for renewable biomass, which creates the benefits of establishing jobs, boosting economic growth, and helping us to meet our nation’s energy needs.

Federal policies across all departments and agencies must remove any uncertainties and contradictions through a clear policy that forest bioenergy is part—an essential part—of our nation’s energy future. 

With these goals in mind, I have offered a very straightforward amendment—with a group of colleagues that spans the ideological spectrum.  They include, as I mentioned, Senators Klobuchar and King, as well as Senators Ayotte, Franken, Daines, Crapo, and Risch. I’m very pleased to have all of these colleagues cosponsoring my bill.

Our amendment supports the key role that forests in the United States can play in addressing the nation’s energy needs.  The amendment echoes the principles outlined in the June 2015 letter that we sent, which was signed by 46 Senators. 

As the presiding officer knows, it’s very unusual for 46 Senators on both sides of the aisle to come together in support of a policy.

Specifically, our 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"

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

The carbon neutrality of biomass harvested from sustainably managed forests has been recognized repeatedly by numerous studies, agencies, institutions, and rules around the world, and there has been no dispute about the carbon neutrality of biomass derived from the residuals of forest products manufacturing and agriculture.

Our tripartisan amendment would help ensure that federal policies for the use of clean, renewable energy solutions are clear and simple.  I am in conversations with the two managers of this important bill, the Chairman, Senator Murkowski, the Ranking Member, Senator Cantwell, about our amendment, and I hope that it will be adopted.  I would encourage our colleagues to support its adoption.

Mr. President, as I mentioned, Senators Klobuchar and King joined with me last week in introducing this bill.  I would ask Unanimous Consent that Senator Ayotte, Senator Franken, Senator Daines, Senator Crapo, and Senator Risch be added to the amendment as well.