Forest Owners Support EPA's Final Biomass Deferral Rule

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EPA finalized a rule to defer the regulation of biomass energy carbon emissions. The National Alliance of Forest Owners voiced support for the rule and offered suggestions for next steps.

This is a prudent step towards restoring the federal government's long-standing policy that biomass energy is an environmentally beneficial alternative to fossil fuels and does not increase the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

The National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) supports the final U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule to defer the regulation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from biomass for three years while the agency studies the science and policy of regulating biomass energy the same as fossil fuels.

David P. Tenny, President and CEO of NAFO, stated, "Forest owners are pleased that the EPA has finalized this rule. The final Tailoring Rule was flawed by treating biomass carbon emissions the same as fossil fuels. This is a prudent step towards restoring the federal government's long-standing policy that biomass energy is an environmentally beneficial alternative to fossil fuels and does not increase the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.

"As the scientific and policy review commences, it is important that the EPA and other key agencies, like the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy, conduct a review free of arbitrary assumptions or parameters that skew well-settled science. For instance, the review should recognize that the forest carbon cycle is a dynamic, ongoing process that occurs across broad landscapes without a specific start and end date. Arbitrarily limiting areas and timeframes when accounting for biomass carbon emissions inevitably skews the forest carbon picture.

"NAFO is committed to working with the EPA and other key agencies to develop a policy accurately reflecting the science of working forests that helps meet our nation's renewable energy goals and reduces carbon emissions."

NAFO submitted extensive comments to the EPA's Call for Information and on the proposed Deferral Rule. NAFO's full comments are available at http://www.nafoalliance.org are more information on the science is available at http://www.renewablebiomass.org.

NAFO’s comments to the EPA provide answers with supporting science to the policy questions EPA must answer, including:

  •     Forest carbon is most accurately measured on a national scale over a continuous timeframe rather than applying arbitrary time and space limitations on carbon measurement
  •     Because forests remove more carbon from the atmosphere than they release through natural and human activities, biomass energy emissions don’t increase carbon in the atmosphere and should be excluded from GHG regulations for stationary sources
  •     EPA should not impose a regulatory "baseline" or "business-as-usual" requirement on forest carbon that would compel forest owners to continually increase the carbon stored in individual forest tracts.

A new policy must be in place before the rule’s three year sunset or biomass energy will once again be regulated the same as fossil fuels.

NAFO is an organization of private forest owners committed to advancing federal policies that promote the economic and environmental benefits of privately-owned forests at the national level. NAFO membership encompasses more than 80 million acres of private forestland in 47 states. Private, working forests in the U.S. support 2.5 million jobs. To see the full economic impact of America’s working forests, visit http://www.nafoalliance.org/economic-impact-report.

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