Sponsored by Oregon Business

EPA backs away from biomass regulations

| Print |  Email
The Latest
Wednesday, January 12, 2011

By Corey Paul

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced it will defer for three years any greenhouse gas permitting requirements for biomass, potentially boosting the industry that Oregon advocates say can create thousands of jobs, provide a renewable fuel source for the state, and propel thinning projects in national forests.

In delaying the requirements, the EPA bowed to intense pressure from Western politicians and business groups, and it acknowledged the uncertainty about the atmospheric impact caused by burning plant waste and other biomass materials. The agency will use the next three years to study whether climate change is affected by the burning of non-fossil fuels for energy, including wood, mill waste, straw, manure and forest slash.

Supporters include Gov. John Kitzhaber, forestry groups, and U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden. Wyden has repeatedly railed against the EPA's classification of biomass, calling it "bad science."

"The Obama administration is not getting it right on biomass," Wyden told a group of Klamath Falls public officials and biomass advocates at the Oregon Leadership Summit last month. "They treat biomass (in Oregon) as if it were a belching pollution-plant in some other part of the country."

Critics worry that assuming woody biomass is "carbon neutral" will increase greenhouse gas emissions because the burning process releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The state counts biomass as one of the sources of renewable energy that qualify for its Renewable Portfolio Standard that will require large utilities to provide 25% of their electricity sales from clean energy by 2025.

On Jan. 2, the EPA started requiring permits for new or substantially modified facilities that emit large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Now, operators just need to show they are using the most efficient technology available. The agency plans to prescribe more specific abatement measures next year.

“We are working to find a way forward that is scientifically sound and manageable for both producers and consumers of biomass energy,” said EPA administrator Lisa Jackson in a statement. “In the coming years we will develop a common-sense approach that protects our environment and encourages the use of clean energy.

“Renewable, homegrown power sources are essential to our energy future, and an important step to cutting the pollution responsible for climate change,” she said.

Kitzhaber praised the EPA's decision later in the afternoon.

"This is good news for forest health on the eastside and westside as well as rural economic development in Oregon," the governor said in a statement. "I will continue to work hard with Oregon's Congressional delegation for a permanent solution that gives communities, innovators and investors the certainty they need to help build a robust biomass industry in Oregon."

Corey Paul is an associate writer for Oregon Business.

 

More Articles

10 quotes explaining crisis at Port of Portland

The Latest
Friday, February 20, 2015
022015 port portland OBM-thumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The ongoing labor disputes at the Port of Portland came to a head two weeks ago when Hanjin, the container port's largest client, notified its customers it would be ending its direct route to Oregon.


Read more...

Finding a Balance

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, January 29, 2015
012915-passinvst-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | OB GUEST BLOGGER

Active vs. passive investing: what you need to know.


Read more...

Help Wanted: Poached Jobs aids restaurateurs

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

“We thought there was room for something new.”


Read more...

Downtime with the executive director of Greater Portland Inc.

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Janet LaBar, Executive director, Greater Portland Inc.


Read more...

Game On

March 2015
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

The big news at Oregon Business is we’re getting a ping pong table. After reading the descriptions of the 2015 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon, a disproportionate number of which feature table tennis in the office, I decided it was time to bring our own workplace into the 21st century. It was a tough call, but it’s lonely at the top, and someone has to make the hard decisions.


Read more...

10 Twitter highlights from #OR100Best

The Latest
Friday, February 27, 2015
100bestBY OB STAFF

Oregon Business held its  22nd annual 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon celebration Thursday night in the Oregon Convention Center.


Read more...

Power Players

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY ROBERT MULLIN

A new energy-sharing agreement sparks concerns about independence and collaboration in the region's utility industry.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS