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

How a Utah-based essential oils company cornered the Oregon market

March 2015
Friday, February 20, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN | OB CONTRIBUTOR

Multilevel marketing, health claims and zyto scanner biofeedback machines: How dōTERRA thrives in Oregon. 


Read more...

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...

Opening soon: 3 of the coolest new breweries in Oregon

The Latest
Thursday, March 19, 2015
brewthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

There are 278 companies licensed to operate as brewery, according to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Here are three new beer-making hubs slated to open soon.


Read more...

Oregon Business expands events portfolio

The Latest
Friday, March 27, 2015
htctfacebookBY OB STAFF

New events series brings magazine to life.


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...

Are wolves good for business?

Contributed Blogs
Friday, March 06, 2015
030615-wolf-thumbBY JEFF DELKIN | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

As a local business owner, I believe it’s important to build our economy on a platform of conservation values.  


Read more...

Footloose

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Founded 12 years ago, Keen Inc. likes to push the envelope, starting with the debut of the “Newport” closed toe sandal in 2003. Since then, the company has opened a factory on Swan Island and a sleek new headquarters in the Pearl District. The brand’s newest offering, UNEEK, is a sandal made from two woven cords and not much more.


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