The National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) today urged the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to include a definition of biomass in clean energy legislation that will promote rather than discourage the use of biomass to meet America’s renewable energy goals. NAFO provided written testimony for the Committee’s hearing on S. 2146, the Clean Energy Standard Act of 2012, which would create a federal mandate for sources of clean energy beginning in 2015 with a 24 percent share of total energy production and increasing to 82 percent in 2035.
“Forest biomass has been recognized by the President as a key part of an ‘all of the above’ solution to our nation’s energy needs,” said Dave Tenny, President and CEO of NAFO. “Unfortunately, this bill discourages the use of forest biomass in direct contradiction to that approach. By excluding forest biomass from the definition of ‘Renewable Energy’ and inserting legally complicated requirements, the bill creates uncertainties that will discourage forest biomass use by making compliance too expensive and vulnerable to lawsuits”
The bill defines “Qualified Renewable Biomass,” using terms and criteria from national forest management that have been the source of protracted litigation for decades. The new definition would overlay the existing framework of well–established federal, state and local laws, which currently govern private forest practices.
The bill further requires that qualified biomass be assigned a “carbon intensity factor,” ignoring the long-standing international recognition of sustainable biomass combustion in place of fossil fuel combustion as beneficial for the climate.