Tester backs legislation to jumpstart biofuel production in National Forests

Bipartisan legislation would allow National Forest resources to be counted toward Renewable Fuel Standard

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Jon Tester is backing bipartisan legislation that will strengthen renewable energy opportunities in Montana by allowing biomass material from National Forests to be counted toward the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The 2007 Energy Bill does not officially define resources from National Forests as “renewable biomass.”  Therefore, renewable energy producers have no incentive to use them toward the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires that 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel to be in use by 2022.

So Tester teamed up with Senators John Thune, R-S.D., Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, to introduce legislation to fix the flawed definition. The bill would:
•    Allow pre-commercial waste (dead trees) and post-commercial waste (sawdust and wood chips) from National Forests to be considered “renewable biomass.”
•    Allow dead trees to be removed from public lands to help cut wildland fire danger.

“Renewable resources that can be used to fuel our future shouldn’t be defined by imaginary boundaries,” Tester said. “We need to put all options on the table in order to make our country energy independent, and we need to responsibly use all the renewable resources we have at hand. This is a good, bipartisan bill that just makes common sense.”

“Forests can plan an important role in helping meet the country’s need for renewable energy,” said Rick Holley, president and chief executive officer of Plum Creek.

A 2005 U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture study said about 2 billion tons of treatable biomass on federal forestland is available for bioenergy production. A significant portion of this biomass could be sustainably removed on an annual basis, not counting post-commercial waste such as wood chips from paper mills.

The senators’ bipartisan legislation is S. 636.