Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton have announced an initiative to encourage the use of woody biomass byproducts as sources of renewable energy.Missoula, Montana – June 25, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The officials signed a memorandum or understanding (MOU) that establishes consistent policies and procedures across the three agencies to support the use of these byproducts. “The fuels treatment component of President Bush’s Healthy Forests Initiative and 10-year National Fire Plan offers an opportunity to convert the renewable biomass wood waste from this work into energy and other usable products,” said Veneman. “This initiative emphasizes our commitment to restore forest health in a way that provides ecological benefits.” The MOU promotes the use of woody biomass byproducts that result from forest, woodland, and rangeland restoration and hazardous fuels treatment projects, consistent with locally developed land management plans. The byproducts that are removed can be used for biomass energy, such as steam and electric and a variety of other uses. “This cooperative effort with these major federal land-holding departments provides benefits in terms of reducing hazardous fuels and improving forest health while, at the same time, increasing the Nation’s renewable energy supply. This memorandum reinforces our commitment and support to the National Energy Policy’s charge to re-evaluate access limitations to federal lands in order to increase renewable energy production,” said Abraham. According to the officials, energy is a key market for low-value woody biomass, and DOE, USDA and DOI support and conduct research into biomass energy alternatives. The principles of this agreement will be implemented under the relevant authorities of the three federal departments. Under the MOU agencies agreed to: -Promote understanding among local communities, interested parties and the general public in fo woody biomass utilization strategies rest restoration and fuels treatment projects, biomass quality and quantity and seek input on. -Develop and apply the best scientific knowledge pertaining to woody biomass utilization and forest management practices for reducing hazardous fuels and improving forest health. -Encourage the sustainable development and stabilization of woody biomass utilization markets. -Support Indian Tribes as appropriate, in the development and establishment of woody biomass utilization within tribal communities as a means of creating jobs, establishing infrastructure and supporting new economic opportunities. -Explore opportunities to provide a reliable, sustainable supply of woody biomass. Develop and apply meaningful measures of successful outcomes in woody biomass utilization.