AWC: Senate Energy Bill step in the right direction for biomass

Apr 20, 2016

WASHINGTON – American Wood Council (AWC) Vice President, Government Affairs Sarah Dodge has issued the following statement regarding today’s passage of the “Clean Distributed Energy Grid Integration Act” (S. 2012) in the U.S. Senate. The bill included an amendment led by Sen. Susan Collins (ME) which would require the Secretaries of Energy and Agriculture and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to jointly ensure that federal policy relating to forest bioenergy: (1) is consistent across all departments and agencies; and (2) recognizes the full benefits of the use of forest biomass for energy, conservation and responsible forest management.

“AWC greatly appreciates the inclusion of Senator Collins’ biomass amendment in the Senate bill. Our member facilities use every part of the raw materials in the manufacture of wood products and to generate the energy needed to do so. In fact, almost 80 percent of the energy from AWC member facilities is generated from carbon-neutral biomass. This bill is a step in the right direction in getting our country’s public policies aligned to recognize our industry’s unique biomass use as carbon neutral and as part of the sustainable carbon cycle. 

“However, we were disappointed language was left out which would facilitate product neutrality in the building energy code development process. AWC ardently believes that the Department of Energy should return to its congressionally-authorized role as a ‘technical advisor’ and not be using its position to advocate for particular products or technologies in building energy codes. These codes should be changed to remove prescriptive requirements mandating the use of particular products. They should instead be performance oriented and establish the requirements that any product, including wood, can demonstrate it meets. Wood is inherently capable of providing good thermal performance, helping to meet even the strictest energy requirements, while at the same time sequestering carbon from the air.

“We look forward to working with the conference committee and urge Congress to quickly move to reconcile House- and Senate-passed bills. AWC strongly supports the building energy code provisions in the House-passed bill and requests that any final energy legislation approved by Congress retain them to ensure all building materials have equal opportunity to contribute toward achieving building energy efficiency standards. Final legislation must also retain the Senate provisions recognizing the carbon benefits of biomass energy and requiring consistent policies across all departments and agencies, as well as the recognition of multiple green building certification systems.”