The inclusion of this language is a recognition by a bipartisan group of lawmakers that forest bioenergy is a carbon neutral renewable energy source. The 2017 omnibus bill approved today by Congress also directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy to establish clear and simple policies for the utilization of forest biomass. In 2016, the same language was passed unanimously on the Senate floor as part of the Senate energy bill.
“Congress reiterated their support for biomass today. We are thrilled, but not surprised, by such strong bipartisan support,” said Dave Tenny, founding President and CEO of the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO). “Legislators on both sides of the aisle recognize biomass as the carbon neutral, renewable energy source that it is. We are grateful to Senator Susan Collins, Senator Angus King and Rep. Mike Simpson for their long-term leadership on this issue, and to Chairmen Lisa Murkowski and Ken Calvert for their support in the appropriations process.”
Climate science clearly and consistently documents the carbon benefits of forest biomass energy and recognize the long-term natural carbon cycle of forests. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), for example, points to sustainable forest management as playing a critical role in mitigating the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, a position strongly supported by scientists across the country.
“The science is clear and the policy now reflects that,” Tenny said. “Recognizing biomass as a renewable, carbon neutral source of energy strengthens markets for American forest owners, encouraging them to keep their forests intact, to invest in forest health, and ultimately, to grow more trees.”
Research shows that strong markets for lumber and wood products actually increase tree populations. According to the USDA, from 1953 to 2011, in a time of expanding population and increasing demand for homes, paper products and energy, the total volume of trees grown in the U.S. increased by 50%.