Friday, June 18, 2010

Just in from Washington




Simpson Pushes EPA to Treat Biomass Energy Production Fairly


Washington--Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson joined Western colleagues in expressing concern about EPA’s efforts to regulate energy production from biomass combustion under the Clean Air Act. Simpson signed a letter to EPA asking that the agency postpone implementing the rule while it reconsiders its decision.

The EPA recently released its final PSD Tailoring Rule outlining which stationary sources of carbon emissions will be subject to EPA’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions control regulations, which will be implemented beginning in January 2011. Although the draft regulation did not propose regulating emissions from biomass combustion, the EPA reversed its decision in the final rule. Both Congress and the Administration have consistently recognized biomass as a clean renewable energy resource.

“We are writing to express our deep disappointment and concern over the EPA’s decision in its final PSD Tailoring Rule to depart from the government’s consistent past practice of excluding biomass combustion emissions in calculating GHG emissions,” the letter states. “This decision contracts federal precedent regarding the carbon neutrality of biomass combustion and will discourage the responsible development and utilization of renewable biomass that could and should play a more significant role in our nation’s energy policy.”

Simpson has long promoted biomass not only as a resource that provides clean, renewable energy, but also as a mechanism through which forests can be properly managed and the risk of catastrophic wildfires on public and private lands can be reduced. Biomass energy product also puts to use a byproduct that would otherwise be wasted or burned in the open.

“There is enormous potential to generate renewable energy from waste products gathered on public and private lands,” the letter continues. “This includes byproducts of preventative treatments that are removed to reduce hazardous fuels, to reduce or contain disease or insect infestation, or to restore forest health…Further, this would help stimulate the economies of rural communities surrounded by federal lands by creating jobs.”

“In light of the EPA’s decision to reverse federal and international precedent and ignore clear Congressional intent regarding biomass utilization, we respectfully request a written detailed response explaining your plan to reconsider the treatment of emissions of biogenetic carbon dioxide under the PSD and Title V programs,” the letter concludes.

School Milk Program

Legislation introduced in the U.S. House would provide more access to milk in schools. Washington--The School Milk Nutrition Act of 20...