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EPA letter to Congress promotes biomass as carbon-neutral solution

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US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acting administrator Andrew Wheeler sent a letter to the House and Senate Committee on Appropriations, detailing the steps taken to ensure consistent federal policy on forest biomass energy and promote clear policies that encourage the treatment of forest biomass as a carbon-neutral renewable energy solution.

The letter was written alongside US Department of Agriculture (USDA) secretary Sonny Perdue and US Department of Energy (DOE) secretary Rick Perry.

“This letter codifies EPA’s partnership with USDA and DOE to develop clear and effective policies that treat forest biomass as a carbon-neutral energy source,” said Wheeler.

“Providing clarity and certainty regarding the treatment of forest biomass as carbon neutral will support good-paying jobs in rural communities, protect our nation’s air quality, and remove unnecessary regulatory burdens.”

Bioenergy Insight spoke with US Industrial Pellet Association (USIPA) executive director, Seth Ginther who said on the letter: “We are pleased to see broad support for biomass energy from EPA, DOE, and USDA.  Biomass energy supports healthy forest practices, creates jobs, and spurs economic development throughout the southeastern US, while also serving as a low-carbon replacement for coal-fired power.  Regulatory clarity from the US government on biogenic carbon will give states and localities the option to use biomass energy as a method to lower emissions and demonstrate compliance with EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule.”

There has been debate over whether biomass can contribute towards carbon neutrality. Bioenergy Insight reported on a study from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies questioning the role biomass was to play in curbing carbon emissions.