Forest owners ask to restore biomass policy
Sept. 13, 2010, Washington, D.C. – Forest owners have called upon the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to modify its Tailoring Rule, which undermines the "renewable" classification of forest biomass, one of the United States' most promising fossil fuel replacements.
September 15, 2010 By National Alliance of Forest Owners
Sept. 13, 2010, Washington, D.C. – U.S. private forest owners demonstrated to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) how its Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule hobbles the production of renewable biomass energy and is a break from widely accepted science and longstanding policy. Forest owners called upon the EPA to modify its Tailoring Rule, which undermines the "renewable" classification of forest biomass, one of the United States' most promising fossil fuel replacements.
The filing, which cites more than 40 government guidelines, statements, and scientific studies, is highly critical of the EPA's unprecedented move to treat electricity generated from sawdust, wood chips, and tree parts the same as it does coal and other carbon-intensive fossil fuels.
EPA's decision to subject biomass energy to costly pollution permits and additional red tape "is not only arbitrary and capricious decision making, but will fundamentally frustrate the renewable energy and low carbon policies established by both Congress and this Administration," wrote the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO), which filed comments on behalf of the owners of 75 million forest acres in 47 U.S. states.
The EPA has come under tremendous scrutiny since it released its controversial Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule in May and became the first and only major government body to break from the well-established position of treating naturally recycling forest biomass as carbon neutral.
In the filing, NAFO asked the EPA to reverse its treatment of biomass energy before the Tailoring Rule takes effect in January "to avoid real and irreparable harm to the nation's forest and renewable energy sectors in the interim."
David Tenny, president and CEO of NAFO, said, "Renewable biomass energy is sustainable, renewable, and not does increase carbon in the atmosphere. Additionally, it fuels employment in mills, energy facilities and working forests – forests that support 2.4 million U.S. jobs. Yet, the EPA's action is stifling investment, threatening jobs for U.S. families and our renewable energy goals."
NAFO pointed out that the EPA has the authority to reverse course, and such an action would be consistent with past EPA statements, Department of Energy guidance, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, European Union policy, and recent White House guidance.
In addition to the NAFO filing, the EPA has received critical comments about its Tailoring Rule from 37 United States Senators (PDF), 63 House members, the bipartisan Western Governors Association, and more than 100 acclaimed scientists. The scientists sent a joint letter to Congress and the EPA on July 20 that called the EPA's decision "incorrect," "not consistent with good science," and an impediment to "the development of renewable biomass energy sources." Other critics, including lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, worry that the EPA's reversal of long-standing policy will lead to unprecedented and unnecessary regulation of land uses that will result in the loss of green jobs if it is not reversed.
NAFO's full comments will be available at www.nafoalliance.org/official-comments-renewable-energy/.
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