Senate Passes Bill Featuring Pro-Biomass Language


A bill titled the Energy Policy Modernization Act passed the U.S. Senate last week – and it contains an amendment that is favorable to the biomass industry.

The bill’s goal is to amend a few important acts governing energy production and conservation in the United States. The amendment in question, sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and a host of senators from states in the Northwest and Midwest/Great Plains, accomplishes a few things, such as:

  • Ensuring policy related to forest biomass is consistent across all regulations and departments
  • Recognizing the benefits of biomass for conservation and energy
  • Directing federal agencies to establish “clear and simple” policies for biomass as a renewable energy solution
  • Emphasizing the carbon neutrality of biomass and its potential as a renewable energy resource

The last point is particularly important, because the carbon neutrality of biomass has been extensively debated for years. The industry has consistently argued that biomass is carbon neutral and forms a suitable alternative to traditional power sources. But the EPA and other agencies have hesitated to outright declare biomass as carbon neutral until this bill mandated that they do so.

Sen. Collins, an ardent supporter of biomass (thanks to her home state of Maine being one of the most pro-biomass states in the union), said that “Biomass energy is sustainable, responsible, renewable, and economically significant as an energy source and many states, including Maine, are already relying on biomass to meet their renewable energy goals.”

Currently, biomass accounts for 60% of Maine’s renewable energy portfolio, and over a quarter (27%) of its total electricity generation.

Bob Cleaves, President and CEO of the Biomass Power Association, said that “If adopted in the final conferenced bill, this amendment would provide the much-needed certainty that will help our industry grow.”

The bill is now headed to conference between the Senate and House. The final result from this conference – designed to hammer out differences between the House’s version of the bill and that of the Senate – will then head to the president for his signature. As the bill stands now, the president is expected to sign it into law.