BPA commends EPA on substantive biomass workshop

By Biomass Power Association | April 11, 2016

The Biomass Power Association has thanked the U.S. EPA for its April 7 workshop on the role of biomass in the Clean Power Plan. The agency convened scientific and state policy experts who testified on the essential role biomass will play for many states as they design state implementation plans for carbon emissions reduction, in compliance with the Clean Power Plan.

“The experts invited by the EPA to testify on the potential role for biomass in the Clean Power Plan held a thoughtful, substantive discussion on biomass power,” said Bob Cleaves, president of BPA. “The EPA should be commended for its thoughtful selection of panelists who spoke on the many areas of impact surrounding biomass, including biogenic carbon, forest sustainability and public health.”

Highlights from the full-day workshop include:

- Justin Baker with RTI International presented data on the types of wood used as biomass fuel and Seth Walker, an economist with RISI, presented research on the forest stocks of the United States. Both agreed that biomass power is not a market driver, but a byproduct of the forest products industry. Walker also pointed out that revenue from biomass is an incentive for landowners to keep and maintain forests.

- Greg Latta from the University of Idaho presented carbon modeling research, showing that in all likelihood U.S. forest stocks are stable or increasing. He also mentioned that older forests consume less carbon, and therefore a healthy forest products market, including biomass, can enhance atmospheric carbon reduction.

- Forestry and energy experts from Minnesota, New Hampshire, California, Oregon and South Carolina discussed the contributions of biomass to their states’ economies and environmental policy. Despite the many differences among their states, the speakers all agreed that a strong biomass market enhances the health of their states’ forests and is helping their states reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

“We hope that the EPA incorporates the advice of these witnesses in considering how biomass will contribute to the Clean Power Plan,” continued Cleaves. “We also hope to see more information on the role that existing biomass facilities that were placed in service before January 1, 2013, can play for states as they design their implementation plans.”

The EPA has not yet announced its next steps for determining the role of biomass in the Clean Power Plan, which is currently on hold due to a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.