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Washington, D.C. – This week, U.S. Sens. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) introduced bipartisan legislation to allow biomass collected from certain federal lands to be considered renewable, including biomass derived from residual materials from timber processing and from areas needing fire prevention or ecological restoration. In addition to Risch and Wyden, the legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Angus King (I-Maine), and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

Current law does not allow the use of federal biomass in the making of renewable fuels as defined by the Renewable Fuel Standard. The legislation eliminates that exclusion and:

  • ensures that all mill residuals—like sawdust and shavings—can be used for biofuels;
  • incentivizes projects to thin out unhealthy trees and maintain forests at risk of fire and disease; and
  • provides timber producers with expanded options of what to do with their waste and residuals.

“Biomass is an excellent renewable resource to help address our energy needs, yet under current law, we cannot maximize its rich energy potential,” Risch said. “In Idaho, where nearly two-thirds of our land is owned by the federal government, it is responsible policymaking to revise current standards to classify biomass materials obtained on federal lands as renewable. This legislation helps achieve that goal, while providing further value to our forest products industry and incentive to manage forests for fire and disease.”

“The use of renewable energy sources reduces risks to the environment and promotes a strong domestic energy sector,” Crapo said. “This legislation is common sense to a state where the federal government owns over 60 percent of our land.  Allowing the collection of biomass energy from federally owned lands in Idaho will ensure greater energy security and healthier forests for generations to come.”

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