U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is pressing for increased production of sustainable, low-carbon biomass energy to heat and power homes and businesses, while reducing the risk of wildfires and creating jobs in rural areas, according to the senator’s office.
In recent letters to U.S. Senate appropriators, Wyden highlighted the important role of biomass programs at the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Department of Energy in helping create innovative technologies for low-carbon biomass energy.
In addition to its potential to provide low-carbon energy to heat homes and businesses, sustainable production of biomass energy uses the dead trees, underbrush, and other woody material that overcrowd forests and worsen the risks of wildfires. As a result, biomass energy production helps restore healthier and more resilient forests in Oregon and across the country.
“Sustainably produced biomass energy helps restore our forests — reducing the risk of wildfires and creating jobs in the woods,” Wyden said in a March 25 statement. “Using woody material that otherwise would be burned up or put in landfills generates low-carbon fuel and buoys rural communities.”
In May, Wyden introduced the BioEnergy Act, which would establish competitive, cost-share grant programs at the DOE and the Forest Service for commercially proven biomass projects, as well as to improve technologies for drying and compressing woody biomass. This process improves fuel quality and allows biomass producers to more easily transport wood products from forested areas to market.
Last February, Wyden asked the General Services Administration (GSA) and the USDA to lift restrictions on the use of biomass energy technologies in the construction of new federal buildings. The GSA works with federal agencies to find space for offices, visitor centers and other federal facilities.